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From Me to We Principles of enlightened leadership By Jim Jensen In the world of business, much has been written about corporate cultures and the impact they can have (positive or negative) on a company’s success. I have been blessed to have been part of the management of companies where the leadership was trained to “catch an employee” doing something right (rather than wrong), and then reinforcing such behavior with praise and positive reinforcement. These are fun companies to work for where management is constantly acknowledging the members in their work unit for all their positive, successful results. It doesn’t mean that mistakes don’t occur and there is an absence of constructive criticism. And, in some cases an employee may need to be replaced. It simply means the general atmosphere within the work place is very positive. In these environments, “work” becomes fun. The best leaders I know have excellent human relations skills. They genuinely like people. It is their attitude, and attitudes are all a matter of personal choice. So, why wouldn’t we choose to value high human relations skills? Life becomes so much more fun and things come together more effortlessly because good teams are the result of shared visions with each team member embracing both their individual goals as well as the goals of their fellow teammates. In today’s successful organizations who have transcended the old style management paradigm, there is an almost inverted pyramid where enlightened leaders understand the value and importance of “working for” those who “report to” them. They are constantly receiving input and feedback from their employees, so they can better understand the problems and issues one might be challenged with to be more productive in his work. The leader sees his/her role as helping to eliminate barriers and obstacles to heightened performance. Let me share a model that differentiates why people may have sought positions of leadership in the past compared to what is evolving in 21st century leadership. Old Paradigm New Paradigm • Personal Power • Empower Others • To Control • To Influence • • To Be Served To Serve Others The primary motivations for people to become leaders in the old management paradigm were to have personal power, to control others, and to be served by the workforce. Communication was strictly top down. Titles were very important, and god forbids you should question a person of higher authority. The primary mood within the company was fear-based. Fear that you might do or say the wrong thing that could lead to your getting fired. The environment was suppressive. Beneath the external veneer of the macho boss was a person also driven by fear and doubt; fear of failure, and fear of others learning of his own insecurities and doubts as to whether he really had the “right stuff ” to succeed. These kinds of environments attracted workers with a predominantly low self-concept. They literally felt “worth-less” and since their primary motivation was survival, they just kept their mouths shut and did what they were told to do. As time progressed, more and more people were able to attend college and the general education level increased. In the 1950s, there became an emergence of seminars, books, and teachings that dealt with the subject of self-discovery and the importance of developing one’s self concept and self-esteem. We began to see the emergence of more and more enlightened leaders: leaders who truly recognized the ingenuity of the human spirit in all people. Leaders whose self-concepts were well intact and appreciated and valued that creative ideas and solutions could come from anywhere within the organization. They created environments that fostered openness and developed reward and recognition systems for such valued contributions. More and more leaders began to perceive themselves as teachers and mentors. Instead of seeking personal power, they recognized the value of empowering others. Rather than controlling their employees, they were inspired to influence them. They realized when you control someone you no longer influence him. As a parent, for example, would you rather control your children or influence them? I hope the answer is obvious. And lastly, the enlightened leader was not into being served by others but rather being of service to his or her fellow workers. Which work environment would you choose to work in? Another question that I presume the answer is obvious. When leaders clearly embrace these values and principles, they don’t possess their employees. They may take ownership in helping facilitate the success of others (another value), but they know they don’t own them. Promotions and advancements, even when it results in the employee leaving the company to go elsewhere or start his/her own company, are greeted with praise and congratulations. I am reminded of a quote from the book, “Flow”,* where the author writes, “Ideal teachers (i.e., managers) act as bridges over which they invite their students to cross. Once having facilitated the crossing, they joyfully collapse allowing their students to build bridges of their own.” C. James Jensen is the author of the book Beyond the Power of Your Subconscious Mind. He provides executive coaching, consulting, and advisory services to emerging growth and mid-size companies. Jim is an active member of the World Presidents’ Organization, and serves on the board of directors of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Aspen University, and EZ Grill, Inc. Visit www.beyondthepower.com Email thejjensens@aol.com 65 leadership excellence essentials presented by HR.com | 04.2014


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