Leadership Lesson from Captain Picard

Captain Picard

Leadership lessons come from all sorts of different places.  Persons, events, articles, conversations, quotes, scriptures. Some intended as motivational and inspirational, some happenstance and epiphanic.

As a fan of the sci-fi genre, I have spent too much time traveling “where no person has gone before.”

While those hours at first blush may seem like time lost that could have been “sharpening the ax,” there is, however, at least one leadership lesson that can be learned from Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise.

With the immense scope of the universe laid out before them and untold adventures and dangers awaiting them, the crew poised at their posts awaiting the command to go to warp, Captain Picard stands stoically on the bridge and barks out the order, “Engage!”

On Being Indifferent

A recent poll by Gallup describes the incredible challenge that faces business leaders.

According to Gallup:

A majority of American workers are not engaged at work, only 29% of workers polled are engaged at work, 52% are not engaged and 19% are “actively disengaged.”

These results are similar across many demographics, are not influenced by earnings level and have held relatively steady for years.

Years ago I took an executive position at company that had been profitable for years but lacked effective leadership. Within the company I found several persons of influence that had “checked out.”

As I began to connect with them, to understand where the company had been, where it had been successful and get a history of the company; I heard a lot of “whatevers” and “don’t cares.”

Top 50 Blogs for Future Leaders

On Love and Hate and Passion

Those responses showed the depth of the indifference within the company. These individuals had become disengaged.

“The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference. Indifference is the complete lack of passion.”

Love and hate are both passion words. Both indicate strong emotions or passion regarding the subject. Both can be channeled into positive actions. Indifference can not be controlled or predicted.

“Indifference is a cancer to your organization.”

As leaders we are compelled to engender interest, excitement and passion in the persons within the organization. For the good of the individuals and for the good of the organization.

Curt Rosengren at Passion Catalyst , defines passion as

“The energy that comes from bringing more of YOU into what you do.”

On Being Charismatic

The natural question then is this:

What can we do as leaders to engage our people, to engender passion in them, to get them to bring more of themselves into what they do?

The leadership trait best associated with this is charisma.

Charismatic figures almost indescribably draw people to their cause, make people want to follow them, to believe in their purpose, to go beyond normal means to assist.

Fortunately for us mere mortals, charisma is not simply a God-given gift, it is not an angelic stream of light that shines from above illuminating the head and shoulders of the anointed few. Charisma is the ability to:

  • Be genuine
  • Be caring
  • Be communicative
  • Be passionate
  • Be “other person” centered
  • Be committed to a common-good goal
  • Be tireless in seeing that all individuals are rewarded equally

In order to do this we must communicate effectively.

For communication to be effective it requires empathic listening.

To Be Engaged

Many times as managers of businesses we cringe at the site of people standing around talking, being unproductive.

Ironically, it is incumbent on us to allow our employee to separate themselves from their tasks long enough that we can talk to the person rather than the employee. Get to understand each individual, what makes them tick, find out what their passions are, find out what their fears are.

“Only by knowing the individual can we hope to discover where and how they fit into the big picture. Only by them knowing that we care that they fit into the big picture, will we be able to engage them in work necessary to achieve.”

As leaders, we owe it to the organization and we owe it to the individuals within organization, to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to be engaged.

A percentage of employees are going to be actively disengaged and there isn’t much we can do about that. These people have decided to move on, for what ever reason. They still deserve our attention and empathy.

We still need to engage those that appear to be lost, if not for the benefit of the employee, then for the benefit of the organization and the leader. We can often learn more from our failures than our successes if we embrace them.

To Disengage

It is the larger group, the ‘not engaged’, that holds the monumental challenge for leadership and the organization. Clearly an organization can not be successful with 50% of the employees not performing at their peak.

The call to leadership requires that we actively communicate, motivate, empower, and facilitate the growth of the individuals with whom we have been entrusted.

Authority is first and foremost responsibility. If we have employees that are not engaged, we, as leaders, are at fault.

It is easy to sit back and say well that person did this or said that and dismiss them. For the good of the organization and the individual, we, as leaders, must make every attempt to get them re-engaged.

Our responsibility to the individual is to listen and understand. We need help them to see the big picture, to make sure that they understand their role in the picture and to help them to achieve their best within their role.

So here is a leadership lesson from the future that we can all learn today. If you want to boldly take your organization where none have gone before; “Engage!”

How can we as leaders get people more engaged? How successful have you been at eliminating indifference from your organization? What can you do as a leader to create the kind of environment where engagement and personal inspiration increases? I would love to hear your comments!

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

—————–
Bryan Moore
 is Owner of Lion’s Head Consulting
Helping business to to become, to achieve, to excel
Email | LinkedIn | Web |

Image Sources: th05.deviantart.net

On Leadership and the Value of Dominance

Dominance

I recently had the opportunity to interact with a “successful” local company and they asked me to review a questionnaire that they require prospective hires to compete.

There were 8 or 10 sort of boiler plate, interview-type of questions, which were all well and good but there was a particular question which stood out to me as curious.

The question was:

Assertiveness & DominanceThe ability to express one’s ideas and opinions with conviction and authority is a key element in building the confidence of other people. How have you used these to get a group to do what you wanted?

This question quickly conjured up a couple of mental images. The first was the scene from the movie Snow Dogs where Cuba Gooding Jr. bites the ear of the lead dog to establish his dominance. The second was of a smoke-filled conference room with employees caught in an epic struggle to shout the others down in a cage match for control.

  • As I pulled myself back to reality, I began to wonder have I softened over the years?
  • Is it possible that assertiveness and dominance have a place in strong leadership values?

Those terms certainly seem antithetical to the concept of servant leadership.

Defining Dominance

Let’s see if we can a better feel for the word and what it really means.

dominance  [dom-uh-nuh ns]

Dictionary.com defines dominance as: rule; control; authority; ascendancy.

As I noted previously, there is a consideration of dominance as it relates to animals. Certainly many species of wild animals have a hierarchy built on a number of factors. Even domesticated animals exhibit these traits.

A Little Closer to Home

In the wild, animals face life and death situations every day. Adhering to a hierarchy that involves dominance for safety or survival makes perfect sense.

However employees shouldn’t have to face these survival compulsions during their daily work ritual.

Many years ago, before the birth of our son, we got a dog. He assumed his spot as third in line of dominance after my wife and me. A year later, our son was born and other than a little jealousy there was no friction between the dog and the baby.

At about three years old, our son began tending to the dog, letting outside, and giving the treats afterward. The dog DID NOT like this. He had slipped down a notch in the pecking order. The behaviors that manifested in the dog relate to a wild world based on hierarchical dominance. As human being, we are called to something higher than this base behavior.

We are called to be leaders of people.

A Higher Calling

Steve Roesler of The Steve Roesler Group and AllThingsWorkplace.com writes this on the subject:

When it comes to leadership, do what is valued: build solid rapport with workers.

Everyone needs to brush up on actions that imply ability and competence (called “task cues” in the psych trade) and play down their dominance cues (actions that  imply control and threat), reports a team of psychologists headed by James E. Driskell, Ph.D.

In one study, 159 college students, male and female, listened to the pitches of task-oriented speakers and the same arguments from dominance-oriented speakers, male and female. Almost everyone thought men and women who exhibited task cues were more competent, group-oriented, and likable. Those showing dominance cues were thought of as self-oriented and disliked.

For a corporate decision-making group sitting around a table in a board meeting, poise, attitude, and approach matter more than most people realize.

Maximizing Success

The biggest assets that an organization has are its employees. Maximizing their potential is paramount to successful leadership.

Old-school authoritarian management may have been and may still be prevalent in established companies, but it is more likely than not to be “the lid on growth” for organizations as described by John Maxwell in “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”.

The Law of the Lid states that leadership is like a lid or a ceiling on the organization. The organization will not rise beyond the level that leadership permits.

Unfortunately some businesses fail to acknowledge the value of leadership at all levels of the organization. They expect that the control of the people and problems on a daily basis will suffice. While dominate personalities may have brought the company to the point where it seemed “successful”, managers with a lack of vision may also fail to see what the company could be if it had a more enlightened leader.

Dominant and aggressive personalities bring forth the fight or flight and survival instincts in people. Effective leadership brings out the creativity, productivity and resourcefulness in individuals.

Equipping & Empowering

I suggest that the only place for the word “dominance” in the hallowed halls and boardrooms of today’s businesses, is in respect to how these businesses could dominate their market by embracing strong leadership values.

Leadership that equips and empowers the employees to communicate effectively and respect the contributions of all.

Challenges that face effective leaders are many. Rooting out old beliefs and out-dated management styles are among them. As leaders, we need to accept and adopt the leadership values that work best for us and our organizations to bring out the creativity, productivity, and resourcefulness in people.

So ask yourself these questions: Are dominance and assertiveness strong leadership values? Does respect or control work better as an influencer in the long run? Can we effectively equip new leaders through domineering control? I would love to hear your comments.

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

—————–
Bryan Moore
is Owner of Lion’s Head Consulting
Helping business to to become, to achieve, to excel
Email | LinkedIn | Web |

Image Sources: gallery.photo.net

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