Rebirth of LeadershipHave you joined the Rebirth of Leadership?

What an incredible time to be a corporate leader.  This is a historic moment for leadership, a moment that places leaders at the cusp of a huge rebirth of what it means to be a true leader.  The whole concept of leadership is going through a natural and necessary metamorphosis that is being driven by the fact that much of the approach to leadership as we have known it before the 2008 financial meltdown, has now outlived its usefulness.  And you may be going,’ Whoa, Sandy that’s a huge statement!’ And it is a huge statement so let me show you what I mean.

Do you know that this is actually the third rebirth of leadership in the past 150 years?  And each time there was a rebirth it was because the leadership approach practiced at that time became outdated and could no longer keep pace with the new economic and business realities and began to cause countries and companies to regress instead of progress.  And when the outdated leadership practices had created enough chaos it was replaced by a more relevant and appropriate style of leadership for the new realities.  Until the world evolved yet again and that leadership approach became outdated …and another rebirth took place.  Exactly as it is happening now and will continue to happen in the future.

Three Leadership Rebirths

First Rebirth

The first rebirth happened with the move from farms to offices – from the Agricultural Age to the Industrial Age.  The economy was powered by massive factories and mass production workers.  The leadership approach at that time was  – appropriately – mechanistic in style, focused on machines and efficient assembly lines.

Second Rebirth

The second rebirth occurred with the advent of the micro-chip and the move from the Industrial Age into the Information Age.  This is the age from which we are now emerging.  The economy has been powered by information and knowledge and the matching leadership style has been – appropriately – strongly left brain.  Give me the facts and figures and information and knowledge I need, and you will be promoted.

So far we have progressed from a society of farmers to a society of factory workers to a society of knowledge workers – with leaders focused on machines, then on information.  What is the next rebirth of leadership going to look like?  What will power the economy?  And what leadership practices will support this?  And in order to answer these questions we have to ask another question.  What has been missing in the evolution of what it means to be a true leader?  What is the next evolution of leadership going to focus on?

Missing piece for leadershipWhat’s been missing is the genuine engagement of the human spirit through authentic relationships.   The Industrial age was devoid of human relationships. The emphasis was on machines.  The information age has been dominated by pseudo-relationships.  The emphasis has been on knowledge.

Third Rebirth

It is my belief that this third rebirth of leadership is going to be all about rejuvenating and engaging the spirit of employees. And by doing this companies will be able significantly increase their productivity, creativity and profitability and their ability to meet the requirements of the new realities.   The economy will be driven by Spirited Leaders and Spirited employees.  Spirited Leaders will be the leaders who ‘get it’ that the human spirit is a quantifiable financial asset because spirited employees and spirited teams have the capacity to produce spectacular results.  Spirited Leaders will be the ones who ‘get it’ that the way to ignite and mobilize the spirit of their employees is through behaving and speaking in ways that build powerful relationships based on mutual trust and respect.  Spirited Leaders will be the ones who have humility and are prepared to invest the time and money in strengthening their ability to build authentic, transparent and meaningful relationships.

So, I have a question for you as leaders in this incredible time in history. It’s a challenging question because the answer to this question will directly determine your ability to make the transition from the current to the new leadership approach that will take you through 2009 and into the next era of leadership.

And the question is this….

‘Is your ‘Me’ stronger than your ‘We’?

I ask this because the Information age from which we are emerging has been dominated by a stronger ‘Me’ than ‘We.’  We have seen this in the disastrous self-serving decisions made by leaders in business and government.  We have seen this  ‘Me’ orientation in the defensiveness, lack of transparency and authenticity, sense of entitlement, self-righteousness and poor employee engagement that reached critical levels in the last few years.

This rebirth will be about moving away from  ‘me, my and I’ to a leadership style that is all about ‘we, and us’.  It will be about moving away from self-serving decisions to decisions that will serve the organization, the larger community, the nation and the world.  It will be about moving away from an ego-driven leadership approach to Leadership with Spirit!.

So please think carefully about my question.

Is your ‘Me’ stronger than your ‘We’?


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