Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Right Leadership Redux

Bad leaders infect the rest of the organization.

In his book A Work of Heart, Reggie MacNeal contrasts Saul and David from the Hebrew Scriptures. Saul is described as paranoid, schizophrenic, depressed and insecure. David was different. "...leaders who are fairly intact in their self-esteem can build community. They breed health in their relationships because they themselves possess psychological health. The opposite is also true; dysfunction breeds dysfunction. The contrast of David and Saul teaches us that people commit themselves to leaders who are not threatened by them. [emphasis mine] Healthy people tend to avoid being trapped in the leadership constellation of paranoid [leaders]. Sick [leaders] can, however, usually attract those whose own needs for approval keep them tied to dysfunctional systems and relationships. Consequently, sick [leaders] have no one around them who has the strength of character to oppose or to challenge them. Those who do are usually exiled or driven from the [leader's] presence. Insecure leaders make supporting them a litmus test of their followers' devotion..." (p. 62).

He goes on: "David's security in his relationship with God allowed him to entertain others' notions and ideas without feeling in competition with them. He had the benefit of wise counsel because of the community he enjoyed. [emphasis mine] He did not always have to be right. He was willing to trust others' judgments. He relied on Jonathan's insights [a potential rival as he was Saul's son] early on. He frequently consulted with military commanders in combat situations. [A prophet who often pointed out David's foibles] Nathan's access to David extended beyond one incident. The prophet's ability to challenge the king proves the point..." (p. 62).

When I first meet a team, I tell them, "I'm not afraid of your complaints, questions or comments. I'm only afraid of your silence." Sick leaders want silence.

Do you entertain questions about your decisions?
Do you seek input from others in your organization?
Do you encourage dissent?

Do you have a lot of turnover among those who should be your trusted advisers?
Are you more happy when people applaud your actions?
Are you worried about your staff that they might be rivals or be undermining you?

Hopefully, you lean more towards answering "yes" to the first set of questions. If so, you probably have a healthy organization.

If you answered "yes" more often to the second set of questions, then you probably have dysfunctional systems and a lot of ineffectiveness in your organization. You might want to check out Patrick Lencioni's Five Dysfunctions of a Team. In the Great Game of Business methodology, the first step is having the right leadership. GGOB has been used by Springfield Remanufacturing Company for nearly 30 years and has far outstripped even Berkshire Hathaway's record of stock value growth. Maybe there's something to what Reggie MacNeal is saying.

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