And your point is?
I want to challenge you to re-think your approach to leadership. Or perhaps, come to a point of view on why you lead for the very first time.
Power and Authority.
The business leaders of my generation have been an embarrassing bunch. Their model for leadership can be summed up as “it’s all about me.” They strive for the highest position available to them. They use their position to wield power over others. They seek recognition and rewards for themselves. And they do whatever it takes to reach their personal goals, with disregard for the impact on others. This is the leadership model celebrated in our culture. These are the leaders on the covers of our business magazines. Think Donald Trump and you’ll have the right picture in your mind.
Every leadership position has power and authority. The question is, how will you use it … for yourself, or for others?
Achieving the Win.
I’ve discussed this notion with a lot of leaders. They quickly acknowledge that they have experienced leaders who are self-absorbed, and they abhor such a leader and the work environments they create. Then they say the most interesting thing. “I am not that type of leader. I am an achievement driven leader. I just love the thrill of the win.” I call this the athlete’s response. Generally these leaders have played a competitive sport in high school or college, or maybe their competitions were for straight As in school. Either way, this model is best summed up as “It’s all about the win.” The leader chases stretch goals, they run hard towards them, and they drive the team to perform. Their psyche requires a win. Everything is scored.
Every leader must achieve. I believe performance and competence are character traits of great leaders. The question is who is the win for … for you, or for your team?
Get over yourself.
This brings me to the alternative leadership model. I’ve dubbed it “Get over yourself.” My blog is to convince you that when you stop leading for yourself and your own outcomes, you start being a great leader with superior performance results. For you skeptics, there is research that confirms my point – three long view studies that prove when you lead for the sake of others you deliver superior financial performance results1. Said another way, you cannot be the top performing leader you aspire to, until you ditch your self-centeredness. And it is simple to explain. No one else is inspired and motivated to follow you because of your personal ambitions. Followers are inspired by leaders who help them grow and reach their goals and potential.
The purpose of my blog is to ask you to explore a model of leadership where you serve the people and the enterprise, not yourself. It’s the hardest, most counterculture, counterintuitive idea about leadership. It remains “fringe” thinking in leadership thinking. Skeptics are many. Some say it is an outdated notion. I beg to differ.
Over the next several weeks, I will be describing what this kind of leadership looks like in action. Join me in the conversation.