Are you an enlightened leader? - Mark MacLeod

December 20, 2022 - Mark MacLeod

Are you an enlightened leader?

With the greatest leader above them, people barely know one exists
Next comes one whom they love and praise
Next comes one whom they fear
Next comes one whom they despise and defy
When the leader trusts no one, no one trusts him
The great leader speaks little, he never speaks carelessly
He works without self interest and leaves no trace
When all is finished the people say ‘we did it ourselves’

Change Your Thoughts, Change your Life by Dr. Wayne Dyer

The above lines come from a translation and analysis of the Tao Te Ching by Dr. Wayne Dyer. Timeless wisdom for living a life that is in flow and in accordance with universal nature.

For as long as we have had humans, we have had and needed leaders. This is how we organize and accomplish things.

In the startup world (and corporate world at large I suppose…), we celebrate and elevate our leaders. When you read an article about a company, the article is about the CEO. Even though there are 100s or 1,000s of people beneath that leader. The press, accolades, rewards and pressures largely accrue to the CEO.

This is especially true when the CEO is the founder. We attach a special magic to that founder CEO that takes his or her company to great heights. And rightly so. This is a journey that very few accomplish. A journey filled with challenges that requires personal growth and transformation on a massive scale.

In my practice working with the CEOs of high growth tech companies, every one of my clients is looking to make that journey. They are looking to grow faster than their businesses. They are looking to create a market leading company from nothing. They are looking to turn their vision into reality.

One of the reasons why CEOs turn to coaching is because their role has become impossible. The burden is too great. Too many meetings, demands, decisions, pressures. Much of this is self-created. Below these over-burdened CEOs lie leaders, managers and individual contributors all yearning for more exposure, more authority, more growth.

The culture and norms inside many companies further promote this imbalance by creating a dependency on the CEO for input on or making all key decisions.

This paragraph from Change your thoughts change your life encourages the opposite approach. One where your leadership is less omnipresent. Less visible. More in the background. Shaping. Encouraging. Mentoring. Inspiring. Leading by example, not by dictates.

In this model, you speak last, not first, and not most in a meeting. In fact, you may choose not to attend many meetings that you take for granted today. This gives your team more space. It gives you more space for the things that only a CEO can do.

It is not a coincidence that CEOs in many Asian countries take this approach. They live their lives in accordance with Taoist or related principles. The collective is more important than the individual. It is absolutely NOT all about the CEO.

What would happen to your life is you adopted this approach?

What pressures would be removed?

What space would be created?

What would you do with that space to recharge yourself?

What would you do with that space to create more value? To enable your team to do even more?

Would you be happier if the pressure was more evenly distributed in your company?

What impact would increased happiness have on the rest of your life?

Photo by Emily KenCairn of Apiary Studio on Unsplash

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