Yesterday, August 15th, the Global Leadership Summit kicked off in Chicago. The summit is a worldwide broadcast viewed in 105 countries and 50 languages. In brings together millions of people to hear thoughts from the top leadership minds of our time.
Yesterday, August 15th, the state highway patrol took over policing Ferguson, Mo. Ferguson has become a city of unrest after a young man was shot and killed by a police officer on August 9th. Disturbing pictures, videos, and stories, of robberies, violent clashes, police in armored vehicles, and tear gas, have riddled the news.
These two events have one very important thing in common: a lesson in the only real way to lead.
Patrick Lencioni is widely recognized as an exceptional mind on leadership and organizational culture. As an author, he has written a few very influential books including, "The Advantage", and, "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team". Lencioni spoke at the Summit yesterday and had this to say of leadership:
"True leaders want to sacrifice themselves for others, regardless of the ROI. I'm tired of hearing about servant leadership because I don't think there's any other kind of leadership."
On the same day, the highway patrol was called in to relieve local law enforcement in Ferguson, MO. Armored vehicles and riot gear where replaced by typically uniformed officers walking side-by-side with protesters. A Ferguson resident was quoted in the Washington Post saying, “They respect us, so let’s respect them. They’ve given us the sidewalk so lets stay out of their street.” As evening came on August 15th, protests that once turned violent turned more jovial with music, dancing, and free food. Instead of waking up to pictures of tear gas grenades, we woke up to pictures of officers hugging citizens.
And so in theory and in practice, in one day, we have the opportunity to see what leadership really is all about. Servant leadership is not simply a type of leading. Servant leadership is the only way to lead. I've always defined leadership as influencing people to take action. There is a reason the definition starts with influence. Without influence, you have nothing. How do you gain influence?