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Two Leaders – Two Outcomes

Nov 4, 2011
By Roger North

Categories: Leadership & Organizational Development

Two Leaders – Two Outcomes

November 4, 2011

Two Leaders – Two Outcomes by Roger North

How can two leaders doing virtually the same tasks get such vastly different organizational results? I’ve been thinking about that question as I’ve observed two leaders lately.

There are many similarities. Both leaders work very hard. No questions about commitment or work ethic. Both communicate clearly and consistently. Communication does not appear to be the difference. Highly organized? Yes, for both.

But here’s the situation. When I walk into the first organization, I feel and see enthusiasm, energy and engagement. When I walk into the second organization, I feel and see hmm…I guess I would call it lethargy.

And, you probably don’t need me to tell you this. The first organization is growing…fast! The second organization is, well, unfortunately it is shrinking.

Does the feeling you get in each firm and the direction those firms are headed have anything to do with their leaders? Of course it does! So where does the difference lie?

Since our beginning in 1997, North Group has believed that “being comes before doing”. Put another way, who you are (as a leader) matters more than what you do.

My favorite example of this principle is President Ronald Reagan. Few would argue that Mr. Reagan was an intellectual or a policy “wonk”. Nor would we contend that he was a financial expert or even a great manager. Do you remember his nickname while in office? “The Great Communicator.”

Here’s my message. I don’t think it was actually about the words Mr. Reagan was communicating. Rather, it was that we believed Mr. Reagan. We actually thought that he believed his own words of optimism and hope for a bright future. We believed that Mr. Reagan’s heart was in his words. His “being” came before his “doing”.

Isn’t that what we ask of our leaders? Sincerity, authenticity, belief? When our leaders are “being” people – essentially those who consistently elevate the interests of others above their own – organizations (even countries) thrive. When we don’t believe in our leaders’ intentions? Well, lethargy, atrophy, poor morale…

What we believe about our leaders matters. Who our leaders are matters. Being comes before doing. Are you a “being” leader?

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