Todd C. Williams, Founder & President, eCameron, Inc.
As leaders, we have a lot to learn from Nelson Mandela. If we can, however, walk away from his passing with just one sage piece of advice it would be to search for ‘truth and reconciliation.’ There is huge significance in those words. Too many cultures have devolved into the vengeful form—‘blame and punishment.’ I am not suggesting that any of us can convince our governments to adopt Mandela’s philosophy, although that thought is exciting, I am suggesting we can change our corporate cultural and reap the bounty. Juxtaposing these two styles for a management strategy, we can imagine how our daily lives would change, how people would be more motivated and how our businesses would grow in new directions.
Leadership is at the Core.
The difference is leadership. ‘Blame and punishment’ is about control. It demotivates teams, discourages innovation, and destroys morale. ‘Truth and reconciliation’, on the other hand, is about getting the right answer, rather than the desired answer, and letting people take responsibility, rather than denunciation, for their actions. Leaders paint the vision, provide direction, encourage self-direction, urge experimentation, tolerate failure and celebrate success.
Advocacy Over Complacency: Advocacy destroys complacency. Employees who blindly accept and comply with direction reduce the power of the team. Complacency stifles how you can gain from your organization’s most innovative resources—its employees. Promoting non-violent advocacy made Mandela, Gandhi, and King the leaders they were. It separates them from everyone else. Leaders that promote advocacy inspire people to drive positive change and embrace its uncertainty. It builds passion, creates excitement, ownership, and encourages people to stand up for their beliefs and visions. Leaders design ways for both the company and the employee to benefit from those visions.
Innovation Over Status Quo: Employees accepting status quo and avoiding anything new will kill innovation. Stasis is easy. It requires little effort. Innovation requires creativity, confidence, risk taking, and the acceptance of occasional failure. Inspiring innovation and investing in your employees’ ideas helps you achieve your dream. Leaders leveraging their team’s innovation reach their goals quicker and create a trusting culture.
Growth Over Stagnation: Stagnation—the unwillingness of your employees to acknowledge the need for change. Lessons from learning, gratification of growth, and achieving advancement produce long lasting rewards for your employees, both professionally and personally. Employees who thrive are the basis for your company to flourish.
Increasing Profits Over Stalled Revenue: Employees that are empowered grow, innovate, and advocate for what they think is right. They will do far more than raise revenue, they will bolster the bottom line. Stagnation, status quo, and complacency may still provide revenue, but it will not improve your organization’s performance or provide an upturn in profit. Teams embracing change, willing to take chances, who are learning and growing will propel a company forward.
Reflect on Your Style
Look at your corporate culture. Do your teams fear retaliation, raise issues without offering solutions, or sidestep risk? Now, reflect on how companies flourish when leaders ensure that employees have nothing to fear but their own limitations, have the freedom to propose innovative solutions, take personal risk, and respect one another. These teams build breakaway successful companies. These cultures change the world. It does not require leaders as strong as Nelson Mandela; it takes leaders like you who lead with your heart.
About the Author
Todd C. Williams is the founder and president of eCameron, Inc. (www.ecaminc.com), they help companies make their vision profitable. He has over 25 years of experience in recovering failing projects, preventing their failure, and applying those lessons to help other organizations fulfill their strategic goals. He has helped his clients through strategic planning facilitation, setting up and running operations, IT leadership, and as an expert witness. He is the author of Rescue the Problem Project: A Complete Guide to Identifying, Preventing, and Recovering from Project Failure and can be found on LinkedIn (linkedin.com/in/backfromred/), Twitter (twitter.com/backfromred), Facebook (facebook.com/BackFromRed), by phone: +1 (360) 834-7361, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.