Thoughts on Leadership

We have had the privilege this week of hosting the Global Leadership Summit which has been simulcast through out the world from Willow Creek Community Church.

There has been so much great material in each session that I think my head is about to explode but I have heard a few themes that I think bear a further look. These themes are, in my estimation, the key leadership in the next generation. Here is a partial list:

First, Social Awareness. I must be aware of how I am affecting others. There was a time in the workforce where bosses were mean and employees were grunts and that was that. It did not matter how the employee felt about how they were being treated. Those days are gone. One of the biggest challenges that employers face is the reality of employee longevity. And while that seems like it isn’t a big deal, it really is.

It used to be that if an employee left, the boss’s mindset was that there are lots of people out there to take his/her place. As the world has become more specialized, the capacity to actually do a job takes more and more skill. This skill takes time to learn. And what we know is that the time that it takes to get a new employee up to speed cost the organization (for profit and non-profit) one and a half salaries for that position. It is a money savings to just keep people around.

But that is hard.

People need things and over time they need more. Daycare, incentive programs, retirement, etc. This is all part of people being willing to stay. And that cuts into company profits - a lot.

And that leads me to another major theme of “the new leadership.” The bottom line is more about people and relationships and not about dollars and cents. Successful CEO’s and bosses in this new world of leadership have to be willing to dip into the pockets of the company and into their own pockets to better those around them. And there is real tension here. Especially when your company is a public company. The investors (whether this is a traded company or a church or something else similar) want to see results in a direction. And when you affect their results in the name of taking care of others, that can be a tense and dangerous reality.

And that leads me to reality number three.

Leaders who are going to succeed have to have the steely determination and grit to push through pain and discomfort to keep on task long enough and well enough to succeed.

That probably isn’t new. But transition and flux are the name of the game in our world. Culturally and technologically the world is in constant change. Trying to keep up is really difficult. And expectations of leaders and followers are constantly changing as well. That is the reality of our age. Amazing and daunting at the same time.

Define your core convictions! Be willing to go to the mat for them. And then assess those convictions as far as how you want the group that you lead to be known. Do the two of them line up? What needs to change? How?

This leads me to my last observation about leadership moving forward. Life is forever giving us more and more places to put our time and money. The place that I actually put my resources really needs to speak the loudest to me. And that really is the point. What speaks loudly to me gets my resources. So we must be better about being heard. And further more we must become more resourceful and able to accomplish more with less. The reality is that people’s resources are going to be spread thin. “Getting my piece of the pie” will depend on being something that is heard and valuable. But the other real reality is that my piece of the pie is simply smaller than ever before. Leaders have to be resourceful with less in order to accomplish the same. And we are being asked to do more. That is an amazing leadership opportunity!

These are a few of the thoughts emerging out of the Summit. Would you add to the list?