There is an old adage that goes, “authority is the last resort of the inept and frustrated.” Parents who have found themselves relying on “…Because I said so” to direct a reluctant child know the absolute truth of this adage. When rank becomes the only means of ensuring compliance, one has long lost the battle to effectively influence.
The art of influencing has challenged leaders for centuries. In autocratic settings, influencing is relatively easy to accomplish–you simply give an order. Obedient followers comply with little resistance…that is until they revolt, use sickouts, or go on strike. But compliance is a long way from commitment. Directives may ensure movement but they do little to foster motivation.
Now comes a brand new book on how to influence in a manner that results in passion, partnership and performance. Ron Wallace started with UPS as a driver in Idaho. He performed his way to the top, retiring as President of UPS International with over 200 countries and 60,000 employees under his direction. Leadership Lessons from a UPS Driver was just released, and it is a terrific read! Buy your copies at Amazon.
Here is an allegorical peephole into Ron’s inspirational philosophy. Imagine you have been away on a two-week vacation. While you were away your subordinates each put up $10 to purchase a group of lottery tickets hoping to win one of the largest jackpots ever. Their agreement was that if any ticket won, they would share the winnings equally. Since you are away, you do not participate. They win and are all now multi-millionaires!
At your first staff meeting after returning from vacation, your subordinates announce they have all decided to resign. You are stunned. However, they tell you they would like to remain as full-time volunteers. Assume these are the only subordinates you can get for a very long time. What would your leadership style look like of all of your employees were independently wealthy, full-time volunteers?
Earl Shorris wrote in his book, Scenes from Corporate Life, “In business, people do not arrive at totalitarian methods because they are evil, but because they wish to do the good in what seems to them the most efficient way, or because they wish merely to survive, or with no more evil intent than to prosper.”
Power and authority can be a seductive and slippery ingredient to leadership. The closer one gets to the top of the hill the less one is able to keep the appeal of control and autocracy on a short leash. But as Ron Wallace points out in his new book, when leaders shift to a “We” philosophy it can make all the difference in their capacity to influence in a fashion that maximizes the synergy of people. Read his book and learn the profound wisdom of leadership at it finest.