Saturday, April 4, 2009

Inspirational Leadership

In the grand scheme of things, corporate America is running about with a single vision in mind. The greatest assets to any organization are the employees and yet, the bottom lie figures are all that is considered. Granted there are those in position that helps and aid employees through personal satisfaction and assistance. On the other hand, there are those that operate with any means necessary to meet organizational goals knowing employees are an expendable commodity. What is truly needed is a change, something both beneficial to the organization and the employee. What is needed is “Transformational Leadership”- changing the organization’s strategies and culture so that they have a better fit within the surrounding environment and are change agents who energies and direct employees to a new set of corporate values and behaviors.

One such person that views people and organizations as having equal souls is no other than Lance Secretan. An inspiring person that motivates his work force and build his people like his would build a company.

In my lifetime, I came across one individual that exudes the presence of motivating personal to perform their jobs in an effective manner. Never have I felt so inspired to work harder than to work for one individual. Although our time was short lived, I grew to admire and vowed to carry on the traditions of this special friend. At the time, I was not able to relate all the doings to specific items, whether it was a wholesome case of many things. For a time, I felt that what I have learned from one person might be unmatched to the corporate leaders of today. That is, until I started to read about Lance Secretan. Through his readings, I found that in depth warmth that I once had many years ago. In researching, I discovered Lance Secretan classified his people as the same identity as a working soul. Which in hindsight, contributes to why he has become an influential, inspiring individual that built and managed Manpower Limited into one of the largest corporation in the world.

At age 40, in the early 1990’s, Lance Secretan retired and created the Secretan Center, devoting himself to teaching higher ground Leadership full-time. Higher Ground Leadership is a breakthrough leadership practice that questions, deepens and enriches conventional leadership thinking with a new wisdom based on ancient teachings brilliantly adapted to the needs of modern organization. Higher Ground Leadership is a company looking at individuals as personal growth to an organization. After all, most of what you hear from people is the attitudes of how important they are to the organization, and yet corporate values today are more about the bottom line. Higher Ground Leadership seeks to transform organizations through individual growth, inspire people to create inspired teams, to inspired communities, to inspire the world. A bottom up mentality that allows personal to work harder without the feelings of being a number, but that of a human being that is truly worth something to the organization.

We are experiencing a leadership paradox of staggering proportions: corporate leaders struggle to find ways to increase organizational effectiveness in times of wrenching change, while those they lead are disconnecting from them in growing numbers. Corporate America is struggling to find ways to solve the every day problems within their organizations. For myself, I have experienced many different forms of corporate programs and restructuring over the past 18yrs. Lance Secretan, ideology mainly strives to gain the importance of the individual sprit and have that catapult the business in a positive direction. Those who come to work, come to be inspired, to create friendships, to learn, to have fun – in short, they yearn for an uplifting experience. Interesting concept for all supervisors, managers, presidents and CEO’s can speak of this and yet, loose sight of the individual as it relates to business progress.

In the grand scheme of things, and without discovering the specific writing in any of Lance’s books, I am quite sure that work is not a place in which we can come and not perform. In fact, the opposite is illustrated through yielding an internal strength of others to feel good and as a result to perform well for the company. One of the world’s most respected management theorists wrote recently in the Harvard Business Review, “Organizations need to remember that their ultimate goal is performance, not employee satisfaction and morale. This statement is the millennium in which corporate America works in throughout each passing day. We will get ourselves out of the managerial hock only when we embrace values that are good for our people and our planet.

A change in culture and values is a main emphasis if you were to seek the advice of Lance Secretan. For example, Higher Ground Leadership begins with an eight-day, intensive residential retreat led by Lance and a team of four senior Secretan Faculty. The program invites participants to be authentic, to undertake deep reflection, connect with others, let go of obstructing beliefs, and arrive at new and transforming insights. These retreats allow an atmosphere for one to explore the individual possibilities without being in an environment we all are accustomed to in an office. In short, they learn to experience and practice the purity of everyday life and work.

In reviewing material from Lance, one aspect struck me particularly hard, and that was when I came across a section discussing, “Truth Telling and Promise Keeping.” For most of my adult life, I have been consumed and caught up in the way businesses have defied this very aspect. Truth telling can easily constitute as, honesty within and organization, where as, promise keeping, can uphold the core values and beliefs for an individual. Personally, I have dealt with these false expectations and because of some actions my mood, temperament and overall attitude declined substantially. Without getting into specifics, it was apparent these organizations were viewing something much more important than the greatest asset they have, there employee. Lance sums most of this up in a visual perspective and exemplifies his teachings of higher ground. If you were standing on top of a higher ground built on trust and integrity and you look down the hill into the valley of despair. Each time a promise is broken, a step is taken down, creating distance from the higher ground of trust and integrity, and it is very hard, sometimes impossible, to climb back. Should there become several steps down the hill; others will begin to discredit you with no real hope of ever climbing back. Interestingly enough, because people who give up the higher ground and find it difficult to reclaim, find themselves moving to a new team where they can safely start again. For myself, I personally witnessed this transaction many different times.

Most of what Lance Secretan presents seems to correlate with most motivational models of today. For example, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs defines four different needs before one can achieve self-actualization. These needs are: physiological, safety, social, and esteem. Self actualization is the drive to become what ones is capable of becoming; includes growth, achieving one’s potential, and self-fulfillment.

The Hierarchy of needs is known by most as a pyramid in which after one tier is fulfilled the next tier can be addressed. Lance Secretan has his own model that is also easily visualized; it is a basic bicycle. A traditional bike is driven forward by peddling and having the rear wheel propel the bike forward and the front wheel goes for the ride. From the back wheel, we derive the values that are the life skills that energize individuals, teams, and organizations. The back wheel known for power has three spokes that yield the wheel together and they are: Learning, placing high value on the importance of knowledge, Empathizing, identifying with the thoughts, feelings and perspectives of others, Listening, possessing a high level of attentiveness devoted to understanding the communications of others. As the power is driven the front wheel shifts direction and the spokes of that wheel are: you, love, people, and strengths. This simplified process works hand in hand, as the bike is peddled, the front wheel will surely move in the direction any organization wants in to meet their goals. Typically, mechanical organizations develop financial yardsticks and performance measures, strategic planning models, organization charts, PERT diagrams, and elaborate systems – all means of gathering information in order to control. Although these are forms of measurements to assure certain directions are met, total concentration on these items will loose sight of their number one factor. Applying simple human basics can assure most organizations the outcome can be positive.

Lance Secretan, has discovered ways to motivate people by motivating their souls.
Our soul Gives instructions that are derived from sacredness, reverence, integrity, love, meaning compassion, and values. The basic treatment of treating others the way you want to be treated. In the grand scheme of things managers, supervisors CEO’s and owners need to rely on an important asset simply by affording employees to enjoy themselves and where they work. Interesting concept of morality to others and because of these caring efforts is an organization prone to generate creativity and growth. The instructions and advice we receive from the personality tend to be driven by the need to gratify our egos: material, comforts, personal worth, career progress, approval status, power, control, and reputation. Just as a special friend has taught me, ideas and values such as these can lead to wonderful things within and organization. As quoted by Lance Secretan, “Leadership is the process of influencing people and providing an environment from them to achieve team or organizational objectives.”