A leader is someone who connects with something deep inside you and brings out the leader in all of us. Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, these are some of the great leaders of our times. They inspired people to go beyond what they thought they were capable of to achieve something momentous for the common good. How did they do it?
To conclude this trilogy of posts that mark the anniversary of the passing of Dr. Goldratt, we are looking at the question of leadership. A true leader is not just someone that is charismatic and who creates followers through their magnetic personality. A real leader is someone who lights a spark inside others. They don’t give people something new. They kindle a light that is already there. They galvanize a potential that already exists.
The humble leader
We don’t need leaders to do ordinary things. We need leaders to help us align with a higher purpose in what we do. I would put Dr. Goldratt who developed the Theory of Constraints in that category, and also for Intelligent Management, Dr. W. Edwards Deming who founded the Quality movement.
A real leader does not necessarily have to be someone with a big personality. They may be, but a real leader is humble and transparent, because that is the only way for them to help others connect with their highest principles and purpose.
Leaders and networks
Never like today, when interdependencies grow exponentially and complexity increases with those interdependencies, must we understand the quality of leaders we need and the kind of leaders we should be. The rapid polarization of our societies is creating a situation where inequality is threatening the linkages that make up our human networks. Only those leaders that encourage the strengthening of connections in a win-win way can create a future that is sustainable, economically, socially and ethically.
Community vs Individuals: a network of kindness
Thanks to our work to understand more deeply the cultural roots of the Theory of Constraints, we were able to discover the work of one of the greatest scholars and minds of the 20th century, Rav Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe. This weekend marks the anniversary of his passing. In his honor, every year the President of the United States commemorates him through Education and Sharing Day. One of the greatest lessons we can learn form this leader is that there is no conflict between realizing our potential as individuals and being part of a community. When we work on developing our own strengths, as we should, we will see the real fruition of those strengths when we put them to the service of the community. This may seem paradoxical, but the practice of kindness, as promoted by Rav Schneerson, is the most powerful tool we have for connection and growth.
Leaders in business
Why should they be any different? Either a leader inspires and enables us to achieve our maximum or they don’t. It is in their interest to do so because a company is only as good as its people. A leader must have a theory, i.e, they must own the knowledge that backs any claim they can accomplish a transformation within their span of control. They must also be able to walk the talk and they must have a step-by-step action plan their people can understand and execute.
Above all, a leader must be selfless. They must provide their people with a vision and this vision must be based on social justice. Why? Because they must elevate people’s faith in the possibility of building a better world through their work. This is what allows people to align their higher selves with what they do, so there is no separation between who they are at work and what they aspire to become. To achieve this, a leader is not someone who seeks power but who sees their job as one of service. To quote Rav Menachem Mendel Schneerson, “a leader has to be a reflection of our own light back to us, so we may see ourselves anew”.
About the Author
Angela Montgomery Ph.D. is Partner and Co-founder of Intelligent Management, founded by Dr. Domenico Lepore. Angela’s new business novel+ website The Human Constraint looks at how Deming and the Theory of Constraints can create the organization of the future, based on collaboration, network and social innovation.