Enlightened Leadership

Published on August 24, 2013 by

A few weeks back I spent a couple of days with a senior leader who wanted to develop his "leadership intelligence." He has produced outstanding results in many ways and he has superb "technical skills,"  but his people skills were suffering. As a result, his relationships were suffering as well. Great leaders produce great results in one or more dimensions, but enlightened leaders produce great  results in the human dimension as well.

There is no doubt that both Nelson Mandela and Steve Jobs were brilliant. But not equally brilliant--because they didn't seem to have equal values when it came to people. One seemed to love and value people and the other seemed to love and value technology. Their values showed up in how they interacted with and treated those around them. Jobs changed the world in the technology sphere and Mandela changed the world in the human sphere.

An enlightened leader knows that the human dimension is the foundation for everything else. An enlightened leader is someone who values the people he or she leads and shows it by how they communicate and interact with everyone, not just some.  When someone is around an enlightened leader, they go away feeling better about themselves in every way--even when the leader has to help them see something difficult about their "performance" in some area.

An enlightened leader doesn't diminish the dignity and self-esteem of those they lead. Enlightened leaders are tough minded but they are also tender-hearted. An un-enlightened leader likely doesn't even like the term "tender-hearted." An enlightened leader might never use that term, but they are known and loved because they embody it.

Enlightened leaders have followers because they inspire individuals and groups. Leaders can get results when they intimidate others, they just can't get the best results--they can't get inspired results. Enlightened leaders know how to connect with, inspire and bring out the best in others.

That's the genius of enlightened leadership and that's the magnetism of an enlightened leader. They not only see the best in those around them, they draw it out and delight in it. Even with those that are (unfortunately) sometimes referred to as "difficult" people.

Enlightened leaders are not the norm; they are the exception. But when we find them, we love them and will follow them anywhere--because of how we feel about ourselves when we are around them.

 

 

16 Comments

  1. TJ

    Alan,

    Well written. Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hooper said "You manage things; you lead people." Leaders look beyond organizational processes and touch hearts. People have needs, wants and dreams beyond the organization.

    -TJT

    • Alan Allard

      TJ, you are right, people do have needs, wants and dreams beyond the organization. Smart leaders, enlightened leaders care about their people on that level and want to help them have great, fulfilling lives, even if that means being somewhere else. It's time we left our scarcity model, sense of competition and our fears behind. We never lose when we help someone else. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. JoAnn Corley

    I absolutely love then ending statement of this wonderfully written piece. A lot of it is how we feel about ourselves when we're around them. It stirs and spurs us with a positive feeling towards a greater good. It very much reminds of I post I curator entitled: The New Definition of CEO: Chief Emotional Officer-Are You One?
    http://hr-management3-0.blogspot.com/2012/09/curator-as-hr-professional-and-one-who.html

    Bravo Alan on one great piece!

    • Alan Allard

      JoAnn, thanks for your comments and for the article reference. You are right, leadership is very much of how we feel about ourselves when we are around them.

  3. Lisa

    Very true, I like the article. Is there a current business leader who comes to mind that has embodied both? I was thinking maybe the CEO of Facebook?

    • Alan Allard

      Dana, thanks for sharing your comments. You are so right that a having a title doesn't mean someone wants to follow you.

    • Alan Allard

      Lisa, two exceptional leaders come to my mind: Frances Hesselbein of the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute (formerly the Peter Drucker Institute) and Richard Branson.

      Thanks for stopping by and for your question.

    • JoAnn Corley

      Yes, off the top of my head Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos 🙂

      • Alan Allard

        Great addition JoAnn! Thanks for stopping by and loved doing the podcast with you.

    • Cheyanne

      With the bases loaded you struck us out with that ansrew!

  4. Dana

    "Enlightened leaders have followers because they inspire individuals and groups"- what a poignant statement and one that so many leaders miss the mark on because they lack interpersonal skills. A great leader is one that inspires, calls others higher, and in return actually has followers because they feel cared for, respected and appreciated. Just because someone is given the title of a leader does not mean that those "under" them are willing to follow. Great article!

  5. Jonathan

    In the technology field, I have come across many individuals that have chosen leadership positions for the money, prestige, success, and passion. To love usually isn't one of the reasons because it isn't a priority. I believe these individuals won't ever find satisfaction because their reasons are solely based on what makes them happy. If they were to add "to love" to the top of their priority list only then will they find satisfaction because they will make a difference in the lives of those around them.

    "Enlightened leaders are tough minded but they are also tender-hearted. An un-enlightened leader likely doesn't even like the term "tender-hearted." An enlightened leader might never use that term, but they are known and loved because they embody it."

    • Alan Allard

      Jonathan, thanks for sharing your experience in the IT world when it comes to leadership. The corporate arena isn't comfortable with the word "love" and that's too bad. Love is about caring, empathizing and acting in the best interests of everyone involved. When a leader loves their team that way, they will see engagement go up. Someone said "No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care." That's love. Thanks for bringing the subject up.

  6. Tom

    Very nice article. Tnx. Tom

    • Alan Allard

      Thanks for stopping by Tom, and for your comment.

  7. intégration système automatisé

    Remarkable! Its actually amazing piece of writing, I have got much clear idea regarding from this post.

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