Leadership is one of those topics that has been around since the earth cooled, and still has either too many definitions or not one that we can all agree on.

I had the opportunity to listen live to a diverse and intelligent discussion that spanned the gamut of new generational thinking to wisdom that draws on vast experience and learnings. You may be one of the lucky ones from around the globe that also joined Kimberly Weisula (Editor-at-Large at Inc.com) moderate the panel of:

  • John Maxwell, founder of The John Maxwell Company, The John Maxwell Team, EQUIP,  the John Maxwell Leadership Foundation, and best-seller
  • Dave Hollis, CEO of The Hollis Co.
  • Adrienne Bankert, National News Correspondent, ABC News
  • Tom Golisano, Founder, and Chairman of the Board, Paychex, and
  • Gerard Adams, The Millennial Mentor™

The discussion focused on what it means to build a leadership legacy, how to scale your leadership, and how you can start producing more through those around you. John also celebrated the release of his latest book The Leader’s Greatest Return!

Wow, what a discussion. The diversity of the panel produced what is like having all the best and freshest ingredients to whip up your favorite salad dressing! A mix of the soft oils of nice, kind, caring, empathy and giving together with the vinegar and spice of producing results to keep your employees happy, your customers coming back and hitting the numbers for your shareholders.

Historically, the industrial revolution rewarded those who could complete the most piece-work in a day. Go Rosie the riveter! This evolved to the management style I experienced during my  career at GE that drove “A performance”. The focused was on the metrics and measures that delivered the expected results. To be fair the GE culture embraced the power of diversity and the value of HR leadership to drive change acceleration. My executive MBA at RPI introduced me to emotional intelligence and the idea of team versus individual performance. Today, so much has changed, but has it?

The visible change is in the style of management, and careers that have turned “lifers” into “hoppers”. In the panel discussion we heard a word that comes up in every aspect of human life; balance. Balance is vitally important to leadership no matter where the management style pendulum swings.

To paraphrase some of the insightful messages shared by the panel…

  • It’s much more rewarding to be “lightning in the bottle” rather than just a “flash in the pan”.
  • Success and Significance are a “both and” relationship that are mutually co-dependent.
  • It’s OK to have your cake and eat it too, as long as you make sure there is enough cake for everyone. (We’ll leave Marie Antoinette out of this one 😊)
  • You’ll only score a hat trick if you pass along economic and job security, slide in some ability for growth and then get an assist from gratitude and satisfaction.BUnch of smiley face, yellow balls

At one extreme of the pendulum you can imagine everyone smiling, happy, caring, giving, and gleeful only to find your stakeholders are not feeling the love in terms of return on investment, products that work, and services that serve their needs.

Gray-white DonkeyThe other extreme brings up the image of a stressed-out animal not knowing what it did wrong and what to do next to make everyone else happy. Neither on their own make a recipe for long-term success.

My take-away, to pick just one, is that balanced leadership is the secret sauce of success. Leaders must truly care, “walk the talk”, and as I have heard John Maxwell say so often “value people” and work hard every day to be the leader others choose to follow. The panel was a great example of how diversity – in all forms – truly proves that 2+2 can equal more than 4. Give it a listen on John Maxwell’s Facebook page.

Hmmm, wonder how this will evolve with new generations including humanoids 😊