Awesome Leadership

February 19, 2012

Awe happens when you come across goodness on a grand scale. You literally feel overwhelmed by greatness. By comparison, you feel small and humble. Awe makes you stop in your tracks.  You are momentarily transfixed. Boundaries melt away and you feel part of something larger than yourself. (Barbara Fredrickson, Positivity, 2009, p. 46)

I’m not sure who first said it, but I once heard Jim Rohn say that he “wants to do things that matter with people who care.” I strongly concur. I tire quickly if I have to do something that does not really matter with people that don’t really give a damn about anything but themselves.

Organizational life for most of us is consistently less than awesome. I think that’s a leadership issue, and because leadership is a choice, we all bear some responsibility. On a daily basis, we need to seek opportunities to engage with others who care and use our influence to pursue a shared purpose that really matters.

If we will make that painful choice to first change ourselves, then awesome leadership at work can gradually become emergent. Make sure your behavior is not the constraint to goodness on a grand scale in your workplace.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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Comments (15)

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  1. Greg Blencoe says:

    I completely agree that organizational life is typically less than awesome. But I like your suggestion of focusing on what we can do to change the situation.

    We really can’t control what others do, but we are in complete control of how we respond to it. Some situations at work aren’t going to be totally fair or perfect. But it seems like the best approach is to just do the absolute best you can given the circumstances.

    This will give you pride knowing you have done all you could. And it will release any burden you might feel of being responsible for the entire company.

    I like the mindset of looking at each person as CEO of their own company (e.g. John Smith is CEO of John Smith, Inc.) even if they work for another company. And you can be a leader in your “company” even if others aren’t practicing leadership in theirs.

    And who knows, maybe your example will rub off on them.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Excellent points, Greg. Concur 100%. Thanks for sharing! Bret

  2. Authentic leadership is about what Charles Handy calls a ‘proper selfishness’ – looking after your own personal effectiveness so you can be your best for those you serve. This requires emotional intelligence and so on.

    Great post – thank you.

    Peter Cook – Author “Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll” and “Punk Rock People Management”

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Peter! I love Charles Handy – thanks for sharing his concept of proper selfishness. Thanks! Bret

  3. As an independent business person, I don’t have a “work place”, but rather a project place. But I find this to be so true on my projects and where ever I go, really. It’s the “Giver’s Gain” philosophy on a grand scale. We always feel better (and we are more successful) when we find a way to spread the joy.
    This was especially nice to find in my inbox today. Thank you.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    That giver’s gain approach actually works, Vicki! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Bret

  4. Yes, I am also a great admirer of Charles Handy’s work – he popped up in my mind as I met him the other week.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Wow, I am envious!

  5. Another great article Bret.

    The words initiative and initial both have the same roots. They beginnings, creativity, making things happen, and ownership, that which you would ‘brand’ with your initials.

    I agree with everything you write, and would add one more nuance: take ownership not just of your own behaviour, but of your tolerance for is truly wrong.

    In a world where so many of us act out of fear, or more properly, fail to act out of fear, ‘less than awesome’ organizations exist because we allow them to. To get along, to keep a job, ‘for the greater good’, we are passively coopted.

    “Yes” matters most. But sometimes, “no” is just as important.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Totally concur that less than awesome organizations exist because we tolerate them. Thanks for sharing! Bret

  6. Barinder Singh Basan says:

    Excellent write up. However practically the problem is that to create than awe, more often than not you need to take many people with you. That is where thoughts of Greg comes into play. “To control how you respond”.

    Kudos to Peter Cook for introducing me the theory of “Proper Selfishness”

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Barinder. I’ve not heard the term “proper selfishness” but I intend to look it up! Thanks for sharing. Bret

    Peter Cook - The Rock'n'Roll Innovation Editor at Innovation Excellence Reply:

    I think it first cropped up in The Empty Raincoat – I met Charles the other week so I could have asked him 🙂

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Peter, you really must stop making me envious! Thanks for sharing! Bret

    Peter Cook - The Rock'n'Roll Innovation Editor at Innovation Excellence Reply:

    Heh heh. I have no further plans to bump into him again !! 🙂