Friday, November 25, 2011

“I” vs. “We” Leadership

True North book coverThis continues our discussion on how to stay on True North or Authentic Leadership to earn the biggest raises & best promotions. I suggest you buy the book and study from the source.

In previous posts we reviewed Bill George’s comments that we journey through three phases of our leadership: our beginnings, peak leadership, and giving back to others as mentor or coach. In our first post on Authentic Leadership we also introduced the 5 areas or points on the compass that allow us to get back on track. Our last post presented 5 archetypes that cause leaders to lose their way.

Today we will analyze the transformation from "I” to “We” centered leadership—a transformation vital to becoming an authentic leader.

Transforming from “I” to “We” is Vital

First, George and Sims help us understand the need for authentic leaders to shift emphasis from themselves to empowering those they lead. George writes “Most of the leaders we interviewed had transformative experiences on their journeys that enabled them to recognize that leading was not about their success but, the success they could create by empowering others to lead.”

The authors highlight that most of us, in our early years, must provide evidence of individual achievement. Early leadership opportunities allow us to lead on our own. Inability to empower others to lead, however, blocks continued leadership opportunities.

“To become authentic leaders, we must discard the myth that leadership means having legions of supporters following our directions as we ascend to the pinnacles of power. Only then can we realize that authentic leadership is empowering others on their journey.”

“This shift is the transformation form ‘I’ to ‘We.’ It is the most important process leaders go through in becoming authentic. How else can they unleash the power of their organizations unless they motivate people to reach their full potential? If our supporters are merely following our lead, then their efforts are limited to our visions and our directions about what needs to be done.”

Shifting Usually Requires a Transformative Event

Most leaders require some transformative event to trigger their evolution to we-centered leaders. Once again I share from the authors, “A transformative experience may come at any point in your life. It could result from the positive experience of having a wise mentor or having a unique opportunity at a young age. Bus as much as we all want positive experiences like these, transformations for many leaders result from going through a crucible.”

They cite Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas from their book Geeks and Geezers “the concept of the crucible as an experience that tests leaders to their limits. A crucible can be triggered by events such as confronting a difficult situation at work , receiving critical feedback, or losing your job. Or it may result from a painful personal experience such as divorce, illness, or the death of a loved one.”

  Several leaders share their experiences with transformative events including Dan Vassala of Novartis, Oprah Winfrey, Jim Thompson of the Positive Coaching Alliance, Nelson Mandela, and others. Their individual stories illustrate the various ways and times transformative events may enter our lives.

Gaining and improving leadership skills helps us get better jobs. Learning “We” leadership becomes essential to achieve our potential. I hope these excerpts on leadership help you develop skills that will lead you to your potential. Once again, I encourage you to read True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership by Bill George with Peter Sims. I also suggest you download the great guides for taking notes. You can get them at no charge from Bill George’s web site. You will also benefit by watching his TV and video clips on the site.

Monday will add detail to the five areas you must align to find your True North. Join us!

You will improve our conversation if you shared your transformative event. Please comment!

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