Paradox of Leadership in Business
Management Development Institute of Singapore in Tashkent
Over the several years, people have been looking for a specific pattern to follow certain ways to be a good leader in their business or political career or in the case of military service. Leadership has been defined in various ways by different people all the time. It is worth to mention that everybody at some point of their life wants to be a leader and take the leadership position in order to change the world better place to live for people. However, in the 21st century people are living in a world which almost all companies have a paradox of leadership. Unfortunately, in the last couple of years, leadership has changed its meaning, instead of being leader, people started to be just manager. Most people think that these two concepts or positions are the same. However, it is believed that there is a huge difference between leadership and managerial control over people. Natural question comes to the mind that “Why do people follow other people? What is the difference between real leaders and managers or CEOs of the company? What is the “secret sauce” for leadership?” By conducting a specific research about how leadership works, some concepts and exact patterns to the effective leadership styles have been discovered.
Army is the best place as an example in the case of leadership. Army has created a lot of generals who has deep leadership skills inside of the iron bodies. Possibly, Army is the place which any soldier has a right to dream about to be a general. However, all people know that army can attract mostly patriotic people who want to serve for their nation. They do not expect to get any bonus for risking their lives for their country or their people. There is a story by Simon Sinek who developed the leadership concept: “There was captain by the name of William Swenson who was rewarded to the US Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions in Afghanistan 2009, 8th September. Captain was leading a group of soldier who was protecting Afghan officials. They were out to meet some local village elders. The group came under ambush and surrounded by three sides. Among many other things, Captain Swenson was running into a life-fire to rescue the wounded and pull out the dead. One of the rescued-person was a sergeant; he and a comrade were making their way to the medical helicopter. In addition to this, what was remarkable with the share coincidence, one of the medics in the helicopter happened to have a go-pro camera on his helmet and captured the whole scene on the camera. It shows, Captain Swenson and his comrade were bringing the wounded soldier who received a gunshot to the neck. They put him in the helicopter and then Captain Swenson bends over and gives him a kiss on the head before he turned around and rescues more.”
When we think about that specific event, an idea comes to every mind: Where do people like come? What is that? That is some deep emotion when someone wants to do that. There is a love there. After that, more interesting question comes up: Why do not we have people we work with like that? In the military, they give medals to people whom willing to sacrifice themselves that others may gain. In business, we give bonuses to people whom willing to sacrifice others, so we may gain. However, there must be a perfect pattern to develop these skills, because people know that there are a lot of well-known leaders who are able to lead companies or even countries around the world. Simon Sinek who is a well-known author and a speaker came out with an idea that can define the leadership better than anyone. He mentioned that: “The most important thing within any organization is environment. If we get the environment right, every single one of us has a capacity to do these remarkable things and more importantly others have that capacity too. If we gave a question to Mr. Swenson or any other hero or any soldier that why would you do that for them, their comrades or people? The same answer will come up from them that “They would do that for me!” It is just amazing to have that much trust and cooperation between people. Because it is very hard to achieve mentally, emotionally or even physically to make two people trust or instruct them to work with each other. It does not work like that and it cannot be called cooperation.”
Leadership in Business: Instinctual concepts
Scientists have been trying to understand the human nature over the centuries and specifically leadership skills. One example or one unique habit has been described that can be eventually influenced to people by their leaders. Everyone accepts that human being has a feeling of fear. A millions of years ago when people had lived in caves. They were surrounded by danger, all forces tried to reduce our life span whether it were natural disasters or wild animals. If people at that time did not believe each other and did not believe that, his or her partner will not look for danger when something bad happens. If there is no trust and cooperation between them. Then both of them would die eventually. This is bad system of survival in life.
In the modern society, the world is filled with danger, things are trying to frustrate our lives, reduce for opportunity of our success. It could be an ups and downs in economy, the uncertainty of the stock market, it could be a new technology that renders our business model obsolete over night. Or it could be our competition that is sometimes trying to kill us, sometimes put us out of the business. We have no control over these forces. These are constant and not going away.
The only variables are the conditions of inside the organization. That is the point which leadership matters. Because, it is the leader makes the change. When the leader makes the choice, to put the safety, lives of inside the organization first, to sacrifice their comforts and tangible results, so the people remain feel safe, and fell as if they belong remarkable things happen.
Business world has been built in fear. Our labor force work for us, because they are afraid of losing their jobs and salary. However, real leaders never kept their people in fear, in order to kept their power and running their business smooth. If people talk about that they might get into trouble or get fired from their jobs. All they were telling that they do not trust their leaders; they need that job for standard of living in life. If we wanted to make our products and services more qualified or better than anyone did. We, all business people must establish a mutual trust between leadership and workers (followers) or more among workers itself. If the mutual trust does not build inside of the organization, then all people inside of the organization will spend their time and energy, not to care about the quality of products and services, instead they will care about to protect themselves from each other. Moreover, that inherently weakens the organization. When we feel safe inside the organization, we will naturally combine our talent, strength and work tirelessly to face the danger outside and seize the opportunity.
The closest analogy, what is a being great leader? It is like being a parent. If we think about being a great parent, what make our parents great? They want to give their children opportunity, education, disciple when necessary. All effort of them focused on what their children achieve more that they did for themselves. Great leaders want exactly the same thing; they want to provide their people opportunity, education, disciple when necessary, build their confidence, and give them an opportunity to try and fail. All actions are taken, so their children achieve more than their dreamt about themselves.
In summary, leadership is a choice. It is not a rank. We know many people at the senior most level of organization who is not leaders. They are authorities and we do what they say, because they have authority over us. However, we would not follow them. Moreover, we know many people who are the bottoms of the organization who have no authority and they are absolutely leaders. Because, they have chosen to look after the left of them and chosen to the look after the right of them. This is what a leader is.
We call them leaders because they go first; we call them leaders because they will take risks before anybody else does. We call them leaders, because they will choose to sacrifice themselves, so their people feel safe and protected within the organization. Natural response is that our people will sacrifice for us. They will give us their blood, sweat and tears to see their visions come to life. And when we ask them: why would you do that? Why would you give your blood, sweat and tears for that person? They would all say the same thing: Because, they would have done it for me.
Additional Examples for the case
Charlie Kim who is the CEO of the tech company called ‘Next Jump’ in New York City. Once he made a point that if you are having a hard time in your family. Would you ever consider yourself layoff one of your children? We would never do it. Then why do we consider laying of people inside of our organization? Charlie implemented a policy of lifetime employment. If you get a job in Next Jump, you cannot fire for performance issues. In fact, if you have issues, they will couch you and they will you support. Just like our children when they came back home with ‘C’ from school.
However, modern business world is full of hatred of their employers. Not because of the numbers that was given salary and bonuses disproportionately. Because of the leadership positions, CEOs and managers have violated the definition of the real leadership, violated the deep seed of the social contract. We know that they are allowed to their people to sacrifice and they could protect their own interests. Or even worse, they sacrifice their people to protect their own interest. That is the reason so offends us, not the numbers. Would anybody be offended, if we gave 150 million dollar to Gandhi? How about 250 million dollar to Mother Theresa? Do we have an issue with that? Great leaders would never sacrifice their people to save the numbers. Instead, they will sacrifice numbers to save people.
Bob Chapman who runs large manufacturing company in mid-West called Barry Way miller. In 2008 where were hit hard by the recession and they lost 30% of their orders over night. For the large manufacturing company, this is a big deal. They could no longer afford to their labor pool. They needed to save 10 million dollar. Therefore, like many other companies today, board of director gathered and discussed about layoffs. Nevertheless, Bob refused to accept the layoffs as an option. Bob did not believe head-counts, Bob believed heart-counts. It is much more difficult to ignore heart-count feelings. Then, he came up with the “Forlo” Program, every employee from secretary to CEO with required taking four weeks of unpaid vacation, they can take it anytime they want it and they did not have to take consecutively. However, How Bob announced the program mattered so much within the organization. He said it is better to all suffer a little than any of us suffer a lot. And moral went up. They have saved 20 million dollar and most importantly as we expected when the people safe and protected by the leadership in their organization, natural reactions are started to rise among people by mutual trust and cooperation. Surprisingly, people started to trade each other. Those who could afford more trade with those who could afford less. People would take 5 weeks, so somebody else only had to take 3 weeks.
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