Imagine an organizational leader in the era of Mad Men. What qualities come to mind? If you share the stereotypes I have, you think of control and hierarchy. When we see words like “results-oriented,” “high-achieving” and “focused,” we might assume that leadership requires that same top-down, directive style that marked corporations a generation ago. Yet experience and intuition both remind us that there’s something wrong with this picture.
What’s the key to successful leadership today? In an article on Forbes.com, consultant Mike Myatt tells us that it’s something generally overlooked and misunderstood amidst all the emphasis on drive and achievement. The secret to truly great leadership, he claims, is . . . surrender.
Surrender? Giving up? Giving in?
Unlike warfare, surrender in leadership is not a mark of defeat It simply means learning to let go and accept that you have much more ability to influence than to control. Where control focuses on power, surrender allows you to get out of your own way and focus on supporting the potential of others.
When a leader tries to control, he explains, a workplace develops “weak teams, micro-management, frequent turf wars, high stress, operational strain, and a culture of fear.” When a leader works instead to influence and nourish, a workplace is marked by collaboration, innovation and individual performance growth.A smart leader, Myatt emphasizes, prefers to serve rather than be served. She shares leadership with others, and thinks in terms of community and culture rather than a chain of command. Surrender, he says, not only connects the dots but allows them to be multiplied – increasing the ideas, the talent and the will that a team directs towards organizational goals.
Janet Gadeski, President of Hilborn and Editor of Hilborn Charity eNEWS, brings two decades of experience in fundraising and nonprofit management to her work of providing information and ideas to the leaders of Canada’s nonprofit sector.Contact her by email; follow @Hilborninfo; @JanetGadeski