In my day-to-day work with leaders globally, my conviction that leadership is broken becomes stronger with each new business model that I see. There is no laboratory better than the C-suite for observing the dizzying array of leadership models, and all their inadequacies.
New leadership models emerge almost daily, and there’s a reason for this. One of them is that there are 85,000 post-secondary teachers of business in the US. One of the requirements of a business school professor—I know, I was one—is to conduct research, create leadership models based on their findings and have them published in peer-reviewed academic journals. Do the math—that’s a lot of leadership models. Similarly, consultants and business authors need to do the same thing. The result is a lot of “noise” and not much that is innovative, relevant or new, because the sheer volume of output tends to be repetitive and redundant, and does not add much new that hasn’t already been said by our forbears—such as the great management thinker, Peter Drucker.
Another reason is our tendency to separate work from life as a distinct activity, which of course, it isn’t. Leadership is a holistic endeavor, meaning, many aspects of a person’s character, lifestyle, history, genes, preferences, personality style, IQ and EQ, spirituality, family, social skills, and much more, pour into the outcome we call leadership. And all of these are necessary for us to empathize with, and inspire our employees.
And finally, most of us have been to the programs and have the T-shirt, so there is not much new and many of us have our favorite theories, to which we have chosen to be married for the rest of our lives.
And to cap this all off, few of us need to be led. Instead, we want to be inspired.
A common weakness of leadership theories or models is that they often tend to focus on squeezing as much juice out of people as possible in order to meet corporate objectives.. But there is more to people—and leadership—than just the metrics. We are human beings, not units of production. In my work, especially in my role as a coach to leaders, I use an approach I call, “The Whole Human®”. Before you say, “Well, that’s just another model”, it is and it isn’t. It merely reminds us that when we lead, or when we are teaching or coaching others to be stronger leaders, we must consider the whole human being. When we do, we become inspiring to others, we lift their spirits and, therefore, their performance—not just at work, but in life as a whole.
An inspiring person lives an inspiring life—in total, not just at work.
If your family finds you to be inspiring, then you have all of the necessary attributes to inspire your colleagues at work. Are you inspired in all aspects of your life? If you are (or at least, you are working on it), then you are an inspiring leader.