“Enlightened Leadership” Creates Higher Performance

Published on June 11, 2019 by

A few years ago my friend and colleague JoAnn Corley, a top business consultant, interviewed me about an article I had written on "Enlightened Leadership." I'm posting the article below and here is the link for the interview: https://player.fm/series/joann-corley-schwarzkopf-newschool-management-podchats/alan-allard-enlightened-leadership

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.


  1. JoAnn Corley

    Great post -- "enlightened leaders" are those who have developed social and emotional intelligence. Love this quote: "They not only see the best in those around them, they draw it out and delight in it." They really find pleasure in the success of others. This is really cool!

    • Alan Allard

      Thanks JoAnn, I appreciate you taking the time to add to the discussion!

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