The power of leadership at High-Performance Organizations is found in the essence of Servant Leadership, the alternative approach to the “default” model most common in society until now: The Command and Control Leadership Model.
Taking a look at it, we may even better understand what Servant Leadership means and why it needs to be the basic thinking for leaders in High-Performance Organizations.
By contrast, High-Performance Leadership stands on a moral base. Additionally, the focus shifts from self to others, from self- interest to the benefit of the whole.
A High-Performance Leader behaves like a doctor or a personal trainer, asking questions, diagnosing and prescribing for each person in the organization what capabilities need to be developed, challenging to innovate, to create superior value and learn, growing as a human and as a professional.
Leaders at High-Performance Organizations are humble, egoless, focused on the company as a whole, passionate about customers and the business, constantly studying the business internally and externally, obsessed with self-disruption, and their highest priority is building successors who have the DNA of the culture in their blood and are just as passionate about the business.
Likewise, High-Performance Leaders strengthen the business by developing people through coaching at the Gemba, the place where things happen; where customer value is created or delivered.
At High-Performance Organizations, leaders are entrusted first with the Human Development. The Business results are a consequence of how capable leaders are to develop people who become leaders of their areas of responsibility, solving problems that help improve customer satisfaction. As Akio Toyoda put it:
We are all growing and learning, and we all need teachers and coaches to help guide. We say at Toyota that every leader is a teacher developing the next generation of leaders. This is their most important job.
Furthermore, leaders must assume this fundamental responsibility keeping the purpose, principles and values of the company, and it is important to remark that they are real leaders mainly to the extent that they do so.
Thinking of a leader as a teacher and coach, as managing from the Gemba, believing deeply that people are the only appreciated assets of the company, believing in the value of intentionally creating a common culture and being a role model of that culture, and that the adaptiveness of the business to meet the challenges of the environment comes from how people are developed all the way down to the worker is quite different from the leader as the captain of the ship steering it cleverly through brilliant personal insights.
Therefore, when compared to Command and Control, it is possible that a question comes up to our minds.
No, the High-Performance Leadership Model does not ignore or minimize the importance or influence of “power” in an organization. It exists and it might even be considered as important as in the Power Model.
However, power is recognized as a privilege, a responsibility, not an entitlement: leaders at High-Performance Organizations use power just for the purpose of benefiting the whole. In this sense:
In order to understand this, please consider the polarized comparisons of the figure below.
However, the point here is that a High-Performance Leader is inherently trust-worthy and admirable, while the Command and Control Leader smells of conceit and invites suspicion.
We can probably picture leaders we have worked for as primarily one or the other, and likely have emotions about that.
Power is like love, the more you give to others, the more it flows back to you naturally.
When I am asked about what the distinctive beliefs of leaders at High-Performance Organizations are, I really like to go deep into these:
Finally, I just would like to add one of the most brilliant definitions of power I’ve ever heard, by Belinda Johnson, COO of AIRBNB.
The power of leadership is infinite. How will you use it today?