True leaders act based on the greater good of the entire group.

[behavior] act from understanding, not bravado. [persona] diplomat.

  1. genuinely seeking to understand situations and consequences when making decisions that impact others rather than making fiery choices with motives to impress.

I’ve always been intrigued by the factors that make teams great. Teams of all shapes and sizes – sports teams that win championships, airlines that exceed expectations, restaurants that win awards, staple brands people love, you name it – any organized group of people that come together to produce great results. What makes them great? Successful teams have a high degree of collaboration, trust, accountability, and alignment with a fulfilling mission and a vision. Of course there is talent; however, talent is often secondary to having chemistry and buying into a common goal without egos getting in the way.

The tone is set at the highest ranks of the group (captain, coach, executive team, etc.) and permeates throughout the rest of the group through shared values. The reality is that if you can’t trust the people you work for and you don’t have faith in your leadership or what the group stands for, you’re not likely to produce enduring success.

One way leaders gain trust and loyalty with their teams is by thinking through decisions with the common goals and interests of the entire group in mind. That requires understanding what is meaningful to the entire organization. Companies that have a we (the executives at the top) vs. they (the worker bees) class distinction lose sight of this and often make decisions that are in the best interest of the leaders but not the entire group. You also see this with leaders who lead through sheer force and domination – getting things forcefully done in a manner that impresses or intimidates typically without regard for the greater good of the company.

In his book Good to Great, author Jim Collins discusses the culture of great companies. He describes findings from his research that points to a culture of disciplined action originating from disciplined understanding (rooted in what he calls the hedgehog concept) as being essential to producing sustainable great results. Central to this type of winning culture are leaders who act from understanding, not from bravado.

 

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