Amidst all kinds of interest these days in things like renewable energy sources and personal wellness, one has to wonder why we don't see more written in the popular press on the subject of renewing people. It is a discussion that should be facilitated by leaders. Author Robert Greenleaf is credited with coining the term 'servant-leadership' and one of the ten characteristics that he deemed critical to servant-leadership is 'healing and serving.' In defining this healing trait he went on to say that "...implicit in the compact between servant-leader and led [those he or she leads], is the understanding that the search for wholeness is something they share" (Greenleaf, 1991, p. 27).
“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton
Great leaders make a tangible impact. I have worked for a few great leaders in my more than 20-years in business and marketing and I often reflect on what I’ve learned from them. In my times of reflection, I ask myself how I can apply those lessons to my current leadership role. These leaders took on challenges and, just as often, acted as “challengers.” That effort and determination drove success. Looking back, I achieved so much professionally under their leadership. So here are a few thoughts that you can use:
Lessons from the Battle of Trafalgar
It’s a little celebrated fact here in the United States that 2005 marked the 200th anniversary of the naval Battle of Trafalgar – a naval battle in which the English fleet under the renowned leadership of Admiral Horatio Viscount Nelson soundly defeated a larger French and Spanish force under the leadership of French Admiral Pierre de Villeneuve. More importantly, this battle, fought on October 21, 1805, was the most pivotal naval battle of the 19th Century because it ended Napoleon’s hopes of invading England – one of the few pieces of European real-estate that was not subject to his otherwise complete domination of the continent at the time (Wikipedia). This critical engagement marks the beginning of Napoleon Bonaparte’s demise. Despite the fact that the French commander had 33 ships committed to battle, while the English navy had just 27 ships, the English completely dominated the battle. The allies lost 22 ships; the English did not lose a single vessel.
Originally published April 2011.
The advantages of working in a high trust environment are evident to everyone from the CEO to the shop floor. Building and maintaining trust within any organization pays off with many tangible benefits.
This author has witnessed a doubling of productivity in a manufacturing unit in less than a year when the leadership changed from a command-and-control leader to one who built an environment of trust. Trust also improves loyalty and retention, as described by several CEOs of the 100 Best Places to Work in America, including Lauren Dixon (2010) of Dixon Schwabl Advertising Inc. She wrote:
Originally published April 2011.
How often do you, as a leader, practice generosity? Do you use generosity as a tool with which to influence the actions of those whom you lead? Do you perceive generosity as a means to improve your image among your constituents? Do you give in order to receive?
The concept of generosity in leadership is frequently the most difficult challenge for an aspiring servant leader to overcome. Becoming a giver instead of a taker, and becoming generous in leadership rather than self-serving requires discipline, practice, and perseverance. Many leaders either are consciously a selfish leader, or try to get by without putting forth the effort necessary to truly become a generous leader, so the notion of generosity in the heart of leaders is often left unaddressed.
Originally published January 2008.
Several years ago I recall hearing a manager tell an emotional employee to leave her “personal problems at home” – as if she could actually divorce the trauma of her personal experience from her work persona. I recall thinking how insensitive and ridiculous that request was. Of course it is impossible to segregate our emotions, conscience, thoughts, etc., simply by the locale of our physical being. These things stay with us no matter where we go. As human beings, we are a complex composite of physical capacities, perspectives, interests, talents, experiences, wounds, weaknesses, willfulness, values, and ethics which accompany us across our destinations and shape the way we act and interact.
Originally published July 2008.
Today more than ever, the healthcare sector faces growing pressures that will further tax its capabilities and inhibit its ability to meet growing consumer demands. Significant challenges of healthcare organizations include: financial pressures, increasing competition, staffing shortages, employee and patient safety concerns, and a significant increase in the consumption of healthcare related services (Kovner & Neuhauser, 2004). Overcoming these challenges will require that leaders of healthcare organizations seek creative strategies to improve and maintain high performance of employees. With that being said, it becomes obvious that improving and maintaining high employee morale is a key factor to consider in the pursuit of organizational success.
Originally published March 2010
Can strong leaders be trained and developed over time or must a person be born with inherent leadership traits in order to truly be a “successful” or “effective” leader? Most leaders could probably make a case for both sides of this age old debate, but the purpose of this article is to focus in on the trainable aspects of leadership; competencies that can be improved over time. It is generally accepted that all human beings consist of several different elements including our physical body (measured by behavior), our mind (measured by intelligent thoughts or beliefs), and our soul (measured by emotions, will, and desires). As seen in the following literature review, each of these components has been positively linked to leadership outcomes. A more controversial component, however, and one that is just now coming to the surface in leadership research, is that of the human spirit. Are all humans spiritual beings? Should spirituality play a role in the workplace? Is spiritual competency more important than other human abilities as they relate to leadership effectiveness? Can higher levels of spiritual competency be developed through training and application? These are a few of the questions explored in this article.