Social Media is rife with experts on leadership. Many of these authorities have wise sound bites and parable like platitudes that tell of great wisdom from the zenith of their self-appointed roles as ambassadors of great leadership.
I think there is no greater service to the young up and comer or to those interested in finding a better way, than for individuals who have reached an accomplished status in the business world to share their wealth of knowledge with others without expectation of a reward. I am suspect however, as to how many of the emissaries of better people management have actually been leaders in the real world. I also wonder how many are in it for the self-interested gain of greater Twitter and Facebook audiences or to hear the sound of their own voice reverberating through the ether of cyberspace. Finally, how many are academics, promulgating the teachings of other academics that have an unpracticed theory or perhaps have left careers to become consultants or personal coaches to CEO’s or executives. No doubt there are many talented academicians and many consultants and coaches that are doing exceptional work to better the performance of their clients.
I am not suggesting that only those who have had hands on, direct experience in managing the wide ranging personality types that get up in the morning with no sense of who they are, or why they are travelling for two hours a day back and forth to a job they are either unsuited for or wholly uninspired to do, are capable or better suited to lead. I am saying that it takes a rare mix of instinct, intellect and socially engaged attunement to be a really effective leader. Only the people you lead or have led in the past can attest to your prowess as someone who can articulate a vision that is compelling enough for people to first listen to you, and then trust in you enough to fall into an aligned effort behind you, or anywhere around you for that matter in a way that shapes the future into meaningful organizational expression. There are few true organizational developers per se.
I can only think of a handful of world class business people who fit this mold because they are smart, motivated, possess great vision and have great knowledge. Oh, I forgot the catalyst in the mix that builds many of the truly great companies that make a difference to the world; their leaders care about people in a way that goes beyond just producing results through the work efforts of others. Think about the truly great leaders in the world and sense into what makes them great and I would bet the common thread always comes down to inspiration.
My mantra was and my advice to anyone who wants to go beyond the left brained academic dimension of leadership is; “if you want your people’s hearts give them some of yours.” I say this not just out of almost 40 years of experience as someone who most people liked to be around and follow, I say it because it is founded in known neuroscience. Real leadership is emotional, it is mediated by the pair bonding process of the limbic brain coopted through the right orbital-frontal cortex. It is instinctual and in its highest form it is the mystical expression of inspiration that brings people together in the spirit of common interest. However, if you are not one of the rare ‘alchemists’ who perhaps were born to lead, you can nurture these qualities by doing the work of laying down the brain circuits needed to manifest these desirable behaviours.
If these ideas touch you or excite you, or in any way at all interest you, then I invite you to read Oceans Beyond: In Search of the Enlightened Organization.
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Lloyd Tosoff, Author