Making a difference in other people’s lives crucial to finding value as a leader
As this series of columns winds down (one more column left,) I must confess that not unlike what takes place during the keynotes and workshops that I share with audiences, we have one piece of unfinished business.
During the past 11 months, we have discussed each discipline of The Leadership Pledge and the 10 Truths associated with them. The truths not only serve as the underpinnings of the pledge, but also serve an important role as life’s lessons. Is the journey complete with The Leadership Pledge directing us to hire people who have a high probability of being successful, provide them the tools to do their job, tell them what we expect, share honest feedback and hold them accountable for their performance by asking for their trust, commitment, and loyalty? Not quite.
Organizations that experience long term sustainable success understand the balance between winning and creating an environment where their employees feel valued, respected and part of something special. There has been a constant in the number of those “special” organizations. Their leaders have mastered Truth No. 10, “Accept yourself as you exist, accept others as they exist, and in the context of differences and similarities, finding better ways of coping effectively as a behavior driven organization.”
Until we have mastered truth No. 10, it’s unlikely we can answer the question: How do we value our lives as leaders? We must find the courage and clarity to lead others in all aspects of our lives because the answer to the question as to how we value our lives as leaders is by making a difference in other people’s lives.
I want to tell you about four very special people that I have had the privilege of working with since retirement. I have come to admire them not only as successful leaders in their chosen professions, but as leaders who give back because they understand that is how their lives will ultimately be valued.
David Ganzarto, CEO of Alternate Solutions Home Care, Jeff Hoagland, CEO of The Dayton Development Coalition, Marty Grunder, President and Owner of Grunder Landscaping, and Jim Place, head football coach at Ponitz High School and a leader in character education. They all come from diverse backgrounds and lead very different organizations. So what do they have in common?
First, they all learned to accept themselves for who they are. Their competitiveness and intensity manifests into a passion that ultimately defines their uniqueness. We can associate this quality best with servant leadership.
Robert Greenleaf, the father of servant leadership, draws a wonderful distinction between natural leaders and natural servants. Natural leaders are decisive and need to be in charge. Natural servants will assume leadership only if they define it as a way to serve.
Greenleaf explains that while most people believe natural leaders use a more directive style and natural servants use a more participative style, this is not the case. He says this confuses style with character. Natural servants use whatever leadership style is necessary to best serve the needs of those they lead. David, Jeff, Marty and Jim all share that unique quality called character.
Once we’ve learned to accept ourselves, we are void of self doubt. It’s with that peace of mind we are able to extend our energy outward to others.
Accepting others as they exist is where the magic begins. When we deepen our level of understanding of others we no longer fear the differences, but learn to honor them. Only when we’ve learned to accept ourselves can we accept others as they exist. It’s the magic of all relationships. It’s called the power of two.
David, Jeff, Marty, and Jim have developed a keen understanding that their success as leaders is based almost entirely on their ability to attract talented performers who bring both passion and potential. It’s that simple recognition that tells us those people who have been the greatest inspiration to us, are those who convinced us we could be more than we thought we could be. In each case these four great leaders know that they can help their employees/student athletes be more than they are, but not something they’re not!
And finally, it’s about finding better ways of coping effectively as a behavior-driven organization. It’s about believing that if we do things right we will achieve long-term sustainable results. It’s about The Leadership Pledge.
When organizations focus the behavior that drives results and possess a collective resolve built on self-acceptance and acceptance of others, results will follow. I guarantee it. It’s not easy, but it’s simple.
Pete Luongo is retired president and CEO of The Berry Co., Leader, Lecturer, Public Speaker and Author of “10 Truths About Leadership … It’s Not Just About Winning”. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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