A Different Sort of Leadership. A Different Sort of Company.

In recent Posts I have referred very positively to Servant Leadership (Servant Leadership—Robert Greenleaf) and the idea of “decency” as a deep cultural trait (The Manager’s Book of Decencies: How Small Gestures Build Great Companies—Steve Harrison, Adecco).

Key words (very powerful per se, per me):


Now, in Utrecht, I have bumped into another pea from the pod: “hostmanship.” I shared the stage with Swedish management guru Jan Gunnarsson. And he gave me his two most recent books (co-written with Olle Blohm):

Hostmanship: The Art of Making People Feel Welcome.
The Welcoming Leader: The Art of Creating Hostmanship.

Once again, I am enamored, even mesmerized, by this “simple” idea. Here are the authors speaking from the dust jacket of The Welcoming Leader: “Welcoming leadership is about inspiring people to want to achieve common goals. For a welcoming leader, the emphasis is on the person. … It requires an honesty and authenticity from you as a leader that has been lacking in many of our bosses in the past. In a world where everything looks similar—products and places, companies and countries—a guest or employee makes his decision to participate and commit based on how welcome he feels. To provide hostmanship … we have to rejoice in serving others and provide leadership that reflects this.”

Add to the Key Words list:

Welcoming leader.

Jan performed a wonderful little riff on stage about the person in charge walking into a meeting:

The “boss” brings a PowerPoint presentation.
The “leader” brings a polished Vision Statement.
The “host” brings a box of chocolates. (Hey, we were in Holland.)

If the point is to engage and seek the voluntary commitment of others in pursuit of a worthy goal, this strikes me as spot on.

We have, then, added to our for-profit, experience-obsessed enterprise:

Leader as Servant.
Decency as the bedrock of effective corporate culture.
Host, hostmanship, and Welcoming leader as metaphor for those who would seek the wholehearted engagement of others.

I like all that a lot. I suppose I naturally would, as the inventor, with Bob Waterman, of: “Hard is soft. Soft is hard.”

The numbers turn out to be the “soft” stuff, abstract and subject to fudging. The “tangible,” “hard stuff” of infinite importance for performance is the depth and breadth of our relationships with others within or outside the firm.

I rest my case.

Tom Peters posted this on March 26, 2007, in Leadership.
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