What kind of leader are you?
Are you a business leader or a human leader?
Business leaders typically focus on Ebitda, setting and achieving goals, quotas, productivity, efficiencies, scale and on and on. Skills that are taught in MBA programs. Leaders who are strong in these areas create powerhouse companies like IBM, GE, Ford, and General Motors. I think it is safe to say that many businesses today are run by this type of leader, while leaders who are weak in understanding and implementing these metrics don’t last long in the world.
But here is something to consider: Those focused solely on these metrics are not business leaders, they are business managers/administrators. If you focus solely on these metrics, you are managing your business, not leading it.
Strong business “managers” focus on maximizing revenue for the benefit of all the stakeholders in a company. I’ll say that again. Strong business leaders focus on maximizing revenue. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but it falls far short of what is necessary for full leadership in our society today.
Unlike corporate titans of the past century, who could lead as autocratic dictators and treat people as cogs in the industrial machine, or the business leaders of the past 40 years who even developed high emotional intelligence, people skills, and empathy, today’s best leaders need even more. They need to be more human.
Human Leaders are different from business leaders. Human leaders understand all the metrics of the business leader, they also understand the vital metric of people and they are concerned about the impact they have. Human leaders focus on maximizing positive impact while optimizing profit, which may or may not be the highest profit at a given moment. I’ll say that again too. Human leaders focus on maximizing positive impact while optimizing profit.
Before I go further, it is important to note that I keep saying positive impact. There is an underlying assumption that the leader wants to have a positive impact on the world. If the leader doesn’t care, then what I am about to say doesn’t really matter.
So, assuming the leader wants to impact the world in a positive way, what might that look like?
I’m developing something I’m calling The Human Leader Impact journey. And using the the word IMPACT as a mnemonic we will examine this journey over the next several posts. As with life journeys, this is not a strictly linear path. You can move up and down the hierarchy at various points in your leadership journey. Sometimes you stay in one place for quite a while and sometimes you have to revisit an area you thought you were finished with. However, they also build on each other and if you don’t have a solid foundation, the higher levels will be less stable.
As I said, this is still under construction so I welcome feedback. Continuing the journey metaphor, right now it is somewhere between a dirt road and a gravel road.
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Until next time,
Dr. Jeff Van Meter
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