In my various projects with customers of such varied industries as music distribution, microelectronics, online and interactive marketing, new media, satellite radio, timber trading and banking, I've had many opportunities to discuss issues facing those organisations that required some form of transition to a next level of maturity. Whether that was for migrating to a completely new software platform, for changing established practices in marketing teams, for reworking the business model or for (re)inventing the product roadmap, we always ended up discussing people and leadership.
These are two fields in which one can hardly do a good job without having a very clear position and mine has always been that people should be treated as responsible adults and that leadership is just not about gorilla chest thumping or "alpha" dominance as is perhaps too widely believed. To me Gandhi has been much more of a leader than a cowboy president I will not name since he's now in the closets of History. That's because "one ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching", which also means that consistency between what someone thinks, says and does becomes an ever more important element of leadership. As do concepts that have historically been considered as disjoint or even at odds with what a leader should be: mindfullness, compassion and hope. It's what Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee call Resonant Leadership. Today I came across The Builders' Manifesto (via AgileMinds), a great piece on the next level of leadership, which finds me in complete agreement. Quick quote of something I particularly liked, but you should really read the full article:
The boss depends upon authority; the leader on good will. The Builder depends on good.
The boss inspires fear; the leader inspires enthusiasm. The Builder is inspired — by changing the world.
The boss says "I"; the leader says "we". The Builder says "all" — people, communities, and society.
The boss assigns the task, the leader sets the pace. The Builder sees the outcome.
The boss says, "Get there on time;" the leader gets there ahead of time. The Builder makes sure "getting there" matters.
The boss knows how; the leader shows how. The Builder shows why.
The boss makes work a drudgery; the leader makes work a game. The Builder organizes love, not work.
The boss says, "Go;" the leader says, "Let's go." The Builder says: "come."
This is excellent stuff.