In a relatively short time span, we’ve moved from an agrarian society, through the industrial revolution and are now in the information/digital age. Many people have experienced what I call “Type A” style of leadership. It’s based on the military, command and control style of management . The expectation is that employees do what they are told and are “good soldiers.”
For the past couple decades the mantra has been : Do more with less! Cut! Cut! Cut! Bottom line profits and quarterly earnings have been the name of the game. The intense pressure for these short term results has, unfortunately, has resulted in dangerous short cuts in quality and integrity for many organizations. Accounting, auditing and quality control methods, which traditionally were the watchdogs for many companies that protected not only the company, but the shareholders and employees have been compromised. Greed, egos and intense pressure have resulted in things like:
- ponzi schemes like Bernie Madoff ,
- massive recalls at GM because for over 10 years, they ignored a faulty ignition switch, resulting in more than 2 dozen deaths and, to date, costing the company over $2 billion,
- Volkswagen trying to cheat the emissions standards.
Quite frankly, it makes me sick to think that so many people in leadership positions are still focused on short term results that are self serving. How many more lives will be lost or jobs eliminated? How much longer will we tolerate organizational cultures that lack integrity and support the exponentially increasing income inequality due to corporate greed serving the few, rather than the many?
What would the world look like if there was what I call: “Type T leadership?” Imagine Transformational leadership – doing what’s best for the whole. Collaboration not divisiveness, Inclusion not exclusion. Being good stewards of our resources and communities.
Sometimes I look to disparate sources for answers or examples.
It’s hard to imagine, but John Lennon would have turned 75 this month. I have a signed picture of a pre-Beatles Lennon, circa late 1950’s. It’s a black and white photo, taken outside of what looks like a German pub. Above the doorway in red neon it says “Rock N’ Roll.” My guess is that “rock and roll” was barely a cultural phenomenon when that photo was taken.
I think John Lennon was a master of leadership and imagining. Who else can you think of, in our lifetime, that revolutionized music, clothing and hairstyles, movies, art, and lifestyles and influenced politics and created millions of followers, world-wide in each of these endeavors before he was 40?
In his song “Imagine,” written in 1971, here’s some of what he wrote:
“Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed and hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be at one.”
You may say I’m a dreamer, but George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Gandi, Kennedy were dreamers too.
What are you dreaming about? What are you imagining?
Can you imagine living in a world of peace? Can you imagine creating an environment of peace for those around you, with no need for greed and hunger and a brotherhood of man through your own personal and professional leadership?
Be the change.
Marty Stanley is a visionary for organizational change. Her new book and keynote From Type A to Type T: How to Be a Transformational Leader in a Bottom-Line World guides you through the process of imagining a new culture for your organization that will be both profitable and empowering.