Hidden Lessons in Leadership #16

Paul Maritz, president and CEO of VMware, shared his critical components of leadership in a recent interview with Adam Bryant of the New York Times.  Based on his experiences Paul framed leadership with four behaviors: being enabling, embodying the vision, developing influence and taking the long view.

Be Enabling:

Paul asserts a leader’s contribution has to become more about making sure that he/she is getting the best out of others; that others are really thinking the issues through, and that the leader is creating the broad framework in which people can get their jobs done and be as productive and focused as they can be.  The hidden truth to this is, treat employees as people, not as objects: A good first step is to cease driving for results and begin enabling potential—be a mentor of people, not a mechanic of the machine. We all need productive relationships to make progress toward actualizing our human potential.

Embody the vision:

Paul believes that people want to see a leader as representing the general mission, not just him/her self.  What is really essential is that people need a sense-of-mission in order to fully engage in the work of the organization.  If those in authority don’t embody the very values they espouse, then people will only be compliant. Overlooked by many in authority is the fact that meaning is essential for people—for all people at all levels—to truly engage in their work

Develop your influence:

Though Paul spoke of developing loyalty, the importance of this is that it affords influence.  A leader’s influence should not come from the position one holds rather it comes from one’s personhood.  One develops influence with others by being an authentic person.  By being honest and caring in your relationships with others you can avoid demeaning and fear causing behavior, which diminish influence and inspiration.

Take the long view:

Paul asserts you need the discipline yourself to take a step back to ask yourself the question, “Are we moving in the right fundamental direction?” Being able to “take satisfaction from that” and to trust the people and the process is critical.

Any one can think short-term; in fact most do!  It takes considerable courage and foresight to take the long view—it is in deed a rarity.

Bottom Line

“There is no such thing as a perfect leader”:  Paul believes that people are not strong in every necessary aspect of leadership.  He claims that no one leader can be a strong: strategic visionary, operational facilitator, customer relation builder, and pragmatic enforcer.   Paul contends that you “very rarely find more than two of these personalities in one person.”   Consequently the leader needs “a degree of humility and self-awareness” in order to surround him/her self with those who possess the abilities he/she doesn’t have as a strength.

The bottom-line is, always seek feedback and be poised to learn.  Be self-aware, be honest with yourself and know your limitations. When one doesn’t recognize his/her limitations, then he/she can only make things worse—becoming destructive not productive.  Leading others begins with effective self-leadership.

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