If you believe as John Maxwell proposes, that leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less, then we’d have to say that there have been some pretty successful leaders in our day, some of whom have done some pretty horrific things. I agree that leadership is largely indicative of how we choose to influence.
Simon Sinek tells us that we influence either through manipulation or inspiration. Manipulation sounds bad, doesn’t it? Manipulation can run the gamut from direct force and threats, to even collaboration. And there’s a lot of in-between.
The leaders that I’ve admired passed one major litmus test. I would choose to follow them by choice. Not because I needed a paycheck and not because I needed benefits. I would follow them because they had a vision that they clearly articulated and they were passionate about it. They were also people of integrity so I wanted to follow them, to be part of their team. There were truly inspirational. And I can count the number of these highly inspirational leaders using just one hand.
Manipulative leaders often get great results, but at what cost? Do we need to be reminded of the dismal engagement numbers reported by the Gallup organization? I feel like I’ve relieved the fairytale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” dozens of times in my life. Just recently, I saw a leader who was lauded for all the great things that he/she said. Yet speak to some who’ve left this organization. It’s a grueling “my way or the highway” culture that really doesn’t value people. They value results. If you don’t get results – you’re gone, that simple. Manipulation is the chosen method of influence.
I grew up in operations and held line leadership positions. I understand the importance of the top and bottom lines on a P&L and the accountability that accompanies that responsibility. However, I spent a number of years in HR leadership positions and believe me when I tell you that people should be the main thing in your business. If you treat them well and invest in them, the top line and bottom line will fall in line! And that’s inspirational!
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If you believe as John Maxwell proposes, that leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less, then we’d have to say that there have been some pretty successful leaders in our day, some of whom have done some pretty horrific things.