(1) Emotion. Leadership is about emotion. Period. I'm presuming it's okay to have a "great book pick" in 2007 be a book from 2002 (hey, I just read it—on my Boston-Athens flight). Hence, I very heartily recommend Daniel Goleman's (et al.) The New Leaders. It starts this way ...
"Great leaders move us. They ignite our passion and inspire the best in us. When we try to explain why they are so effective, we speak of strategy, vision or powerful ideas. But the reality is much more primal: Great leadership works through the emotions."—Daniel Goleman, The New Leaders
(2) Connection. Only connect ...
That was the whole of her sermon.
Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted.
And human love will be seen at its height.
Live in the fragments no longer.
Only connect ...
—E.M. Forster, Howards End
(3) I started my speech today (to salesfolk from Roche UK) with a slide that simply read "Flower Power." I reflected on the power of small (heartfelt—key!) touches, from spousal relationships to sales of jet aircraft engines ... and pharmaceuticals. I appreciatively referred to the great statesman Henry Clay:
"Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart."—Henry Clay
I appended another slide, created for today (and stealing from all the above):
Axiom #65*: (1) It's always about relationships. (2) Sweat the small stuff—and the big stuff will take care of itself.
(I mean it.)
(*"Axiom65" refers to the fact that I am 65 this year ... and this is, as I put it, "all that I've learned for sure" in 6.42 decades. NB: Maybe Bob Nardelli should have been a student of Henry Clay!? Or Robert Greenleaf—see immediately below.)
(4) After a long dinner conversation with my colleague Chris Nel, I googled Robert Greenleaf. He is the author of the marvelous book Servant Leadership. The leader-as-servant. What a potent idea! (I knew of Greenleaf's work—but you know how it is, stuff strikes you like a ton of bricks that you've comprehended at another level for years.) To summarize the main argument (in part!):
1. Do those served grow as persons?
2. Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?
What a standard!
(But is there truly any other?)
Please re-read the quote.
Do you measure up?
What can you do if you buy Greenleaf's act?
(For starters, perhaps, literally ask yourself, at the end of the day, "What did I specifically do to be of service to my group? Was I fair & truly a 'servant'?" You might work with a friend-coach on this topic per se.)
(Incidentally, Chris was in the British armed services, and he reports that the idea of a leader as servant—using the term—was drummed into him. Makes sense.)
(Incidentally, this applies as much to the "junior" "individual contributor" trying to "make stuff happen" as to the chief of thousands.)
(Hmmmm ... in our "360" evaluations, what if we called the form a "Customer service survey"?)
(Incidentally, the full title of Greenleaf's book is ... Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness. Nice, eh?)
(Incidentally, in my writing—e.g., above—I will hereinafter use "googled" with a lower case "g." It is a "robust part of life as we know it here on earth." Equal in importance to, say, oxygen.)
Courtesies of a small and trivial character.
Leader as servant.
(When I look at the 4 interconnected ideas, I am blown away by their power. Especially ... taken at face value.)
You could do worse!