It seems that some leaders just think about themselves. Maybe you’ve experienced a leader who seemed to care very little about you; his or her behavior was inconvenient, annoying, unprofessional or even unethical. Think about this: Who was that leader serving? The person in the mirror, or someone else?
When you go through a typical day, is your personal leadership like looking in a mirror all day—constantly concerned with yourself, looking out for your best interest above others’? Or, are you looking out a “window” to focus on others? Does your personal leadership keep bringing you back to self-preservation and self-promotion? Or, does it help you think about ways to address others’ needs and concerns?
I think you know where I’m going with this! The best leaders are “window” leaders. Their eyes are consistently looking outward to others, caring for them and serving them. As leadership expert Max de Pree said, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.”
Be others-focused rather than self-focused, and you can experience the synergy of people working together well, united in purpose, and producing great results. Dean, professor, and professional leadership consultant Bruce Winston put it this way: “Employees and followers want leaders who are ‘others-centered’.” He goes on to explain that the paradox of this approach to leadership is that while the leader “…concentrates less on the organization and more on individuals, the organization gains more because the employees are working to uphold the organization’s needs.”
So you see, an others-focused practice of leadership can also yield greater return on investment for a business—it can reap monetary rewards. Simply put, when people are treated well they work more effectively. However, it must be intentional on the part of the leader. Remember the famous John Donne quote, “No man is an island”? This succinctly communicates our need for one another and especially the idea of connection to each other. “Window” leaders understand this vital connection. It is only by stepping away from our mirrors and turning to look outward to others that we begin to make connections to people around us and begin to reap the benefit of meaningful relationships.
Consider the profound urging of William Penn’s words: “I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.” Turn from the mirror to take in the magnificent view outside. Be a “window” leader!
Please provide your insight on this topic.
Renée N. Hale, DSL is an Organizational Performance Catalyst, with over 25 years experience in guiding individuals and teams, leading seminars, workshops, individual mentoring, and on the job training experiences. She is a former professional violinist, and also served for 15 years as an international representative for a non-profit organization in Africa. Renée works fluently in French, and facilitates cross-cultural leadership learning. Dr. Hale’s broad worldview offers distinctive insights, innovative applications, and the capacity to see, understand and apply significant conceptual connections.
Dr. Renée N. Hale is also founder and president of WellSpirit Consulting Group, Inc.—engaging organizations around the world to get well, stay well, and create positive futures. Visit www.wellspiritconsulting.com today. © 2011 Renée N. Hale