Lee Iacocca wrote a book with a similar title in 2008 and I assure you that his take on the topic is different from the stance I am about to take. Presidential election years bring out the best and worst in our polarized society and it is a good time to reflect on the modern application of the word leadership. I am truly ashamed that the need to write this is so heavy on my heart. But alas, someone has to run grab the defibrillator and shock us
back into a sense of reality. So I will be your Huckleberry!
Having a strong conviction is a worthy trait in a leader. It inspires others and often differentiates someone from the crowd. The passion we have for our beliefs is most certainly admirable, however when our beliefs become mutually exclusive from those of others we have a “freakin” problem. Have we become blinded by our own views that we cannot see the value in a person with a different perspective? Have we become
aculture that only sees our own opinions, values, and passions as credible? I mean we talk a good game when it comes to leadership, but the reality is that we do not lead our followers to a world of unity not uniformity. We are indeed not united in our purpose while valuing others that think and believe something else.
When I teach aspiring leaders, a common description of a true leader is someone that surrounds them self with others that think differently. We say that a difference in experience, education, perspective, and ideas makes a team more successful. What a load of crap! I take some responsibility since I have worked with many people and organizations to improve leadership. When we tolerate bad behavior we are guilty of doing nothing and that
myfriends is a choice. We can be strong and absolute in our own convictions while defending someone’s right to be different.
Over twenty years ago, I served our country (U.S. Army Infantry – Whooa!) and was willing to sacrifice everything for our right to think and believe based on our own convictions - to be different. Are these values a distant memory? The value of unity not uniformity is based on a simple, yet powerful premise. Something must unite us first. Today, we ridicule and humiliate others with a difference of opinion. Be it
politics,religion, or ideology; if they do not think like me they are ignorant and worthy of contempt. This is exacerbated by Hollywood, the media, and most often by (quasi-anonymous) social media. Can we like, or heaven forbid, love someone that thinks differently? This is the fulcrum point for the question we must answer. I spoke at a conference in beautiful Orlando recently and had the pleasure of meeting so many people with so many different life perspectives. One gentleman stands out among all others. He and I were talking business and we shared some strong common opinions about the things that make someone a successful leader. He
wasfunny and likeable and I quickly pegged him as a good person. We connected. When I later found out that his political ideology was very different from my own, it did not matter. He was already in the circle. I liked him anyway. We could become strong friends and still have our own beliefs and convictions. On the plane ride to my next speaking gig...