Wednesday, May 15, 2013

On Isolation

Isolation in Leadership is likely the most dangerous thing a leader can possibly do. Often, people believe that being separated from the group they lead is a sign of power. It couldn’t be further from the truth: isolation is the opposite of power and is a sign of weakness and lack of leadership. Essentially, doing that cuts you off from your most important source: The combined experience, the special knowledge of the group ... the information / data you need and which is the basis for your leadership. 

Nowadays our world has become so fast paced that leadership in isolation cannot and will not work. Period. No one will actually follow you, because leadership is never about you, but always about them. When you are truly the first amongst equals people will voluntarily, naturally choose to follow you. Leadership has its roots in the group, gets its strength and power from the group and through the group. 

The other extreme, the opposite of isolation, is mingling too much, either trying to please all people in the group, or not keeping enough of a distance to be able to see the entire picture. Once the group knows and understands the purpose of the mission by all means let them think and work. Leading the group by trusting them and their expertise, leading through temporary absence making them feel the trust you have, makes you and your leadership all the more valuable, desirable, and appreciated. In other words you show respect, the respect for each member of the group, respect for the entire group and what they are truly capable of

As Lao Tzu so eloquently said: A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”

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