When I think about the many inspiring people in my life, driving and leading for change in small and large ways, I picture a beacon flashing in the distance, just barely visible through the fog. And our job as groupies is to try to track it, reach it and catch it with our head, heart and mind.
What does that beacon tell us? What’s its mission or secret code? How do we demystify what it means to lead and be better leaders in our lives? And what does it mean as a leader to hold a beacon?
Companies in the for-profit world have created a standard of leadership that ties directly to bottom line. Successful leadership equates to Jack Welch – a beacon as defined by corporate standards. His impressive output and higher shareholder value was due to a 4,000% increase during his 20 years at GE. The stakes are high indeed, including possibly one’s very soul, thank you Kenneth Lay and Martin Shkrelli, for your epic fails. At least we know what NOT to do.
But more and more people, including Arianna Huffington, are starting to talk about defining success at a personal level, not necessarily measured by status. So what does that mean for our future as leaders?
As I see it, the new idea of a beacon is about inspiring people to rally around more than personal and individual gain. With purpose driven generations coming up the ranks, the beacon MUST beckon actions that have meaning and contribute in larger ways.
We seem to be cycling back to the collective (finally!) and focusing more on community than we have the past two decades. Is social media a catalyst? Yes. And so is dissatisfaction in the workplace. As mentioned in a previous post, we have 70% of employees nationally who are disengaged or actively disengaged at work, according to Gallup, up through 2015. In order to change that for 2016, we need to carry the purpose-driven beacon in our heads, hearts and minds as leaders, where money is not the cause. Money is the result of a greater impact for a greater good.