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Leadership Thought #360 – Think About The Greater Good

It’s easy to get caught up in your own world.  Since we pretty much live in our own head, it’s natural to filter everything that happens through how it affects us.  However, leaders to need to elevate their thinking to incorporate the bigger picture.  The needs of the organization as a whole need to take priority over any one person’s agenda.  No leader is ever successful alone.  You need employees, clients, vendors, professional advisors and a supportive family.  You may sometimes have to sacrifice what you want or desire as an individual for the greater good.

A leader is only a leader if he/she has followers.  At some point other people have to decide to buy-in to your agenda and align their own interests accordingly.  They have to believe that they will be better off for having followed you.  What ultimately rallies people is the sense of being part of something bigger and more important than simply individual gain.  All of us want to have a sense of doing work that matters for the right reasons in a safe environment not just to line someone else’s pockets.  Even if we also get to line our own pockets in the process, the allure starts to wear thin with time.  The best business relationships have never just revolved around money but have a deeper and richer win-win component to them.

I am fortunate that I work with many people who get this concept.  During the most recent recession (which still seems to be lingering today) they made great personal sacrifices to keep the company doors open and maintain as many jobs as possible for their staff.  Personal wealth that they had accumulated over the course of a career was greatly diminished as they self-funded operations and maximized debt obligations.  Instead of living up the unfair and often inaccurate stereotype of the uncaring businessman, they genuinely cared about doing the right thing by their people, business partners and clients.   They also clearly understood that loyalty is a two way street.

I often worry that we are beginning to value the wrong things in society: fame over actual talent and ability; physical appearance over character; wealth over making a positive contribution to society; things over people; disagreement over compromise; judgment without understanding; pleasure and gratification over discipline and commitment; blind patriotism over an honest assessment of reality; party loyalty over national priorities; present day gain at the expense of the future; individual reward over collective benefit; and winning at all costs.   We all take our cues from the media and the leaders that surround us.  

When good people stand by and do nothing bad things tend to happen.  Leadership is about doing what’s right not what’s convenient or personally self-rewarding.  It’s about elevating the dialogue around what’s most important.  It’s about personal responsibility and professional humility.  It’s about leading by example.  It’s about the greater good and focusing on doing things of consequence and significance for others not just ourselves.

One Response

  1. I absolutely agree that true leaders are the ones that can see – and communicate – the big picture!

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