My previous post introduced the theme of serving others. Today, let’s look at providing leadership that others will choose to follow and want to serve.
I believe that people generally are willing to follow strong and principled leadership. Many people simply want to serve just as Forrest Gump did when his Drill Sergeant instructed.
You’ll recall the scene when Forrest and his fellow recruits are seated at the base of their bunks assembling their rifles. Bubba is just beginning his shrimp narration and speaks of dragging nets on the bottom … catching over a hundred pounds on a good day … two men shrimpin’ ten hours a day … gas …
Meanwhile, Forrest has been singularly focused on the task at hand and completes the assembly of his rifle, announcing, “Done, Drill Sergeant!”
The Drill Sergeant rushes up to Forrest and asks, “Why did you put that weapon together so quickly, Gump?”
Forrest meekly replies, “You told me to, Drill Sergeant.”
The U.S. Army operates in a well-defined command and hierarchical form of leadership. Following orders is mandatory and not optional. This type of leadership works well for the Army.
Business historically has used a similar style of command-orders leadership. It became the norm during the industrial age. Our educational system still uses this style of control.
As we move further into the information age, leadership is evolving into a new art form. Telling is being replaced by persuading. Individuals no longer respond to simply being told.
In today’s world, when the boss comes up to you and asks in astonishment, “Why did you accomplish this task so quickly?”, the answer is more likely to be, “You asked me to!”
Are you leading by persuasion or by threat?
Are you asking or telling?
What style of leadership do you believe is more effective?
Next Blog Title: Stories of Gumption – Rita Weber (My Mother)
Next Blog Date: June 13, 2011