I’m thinking quite a bit about advice that helps leaders...i.e., When we want to provide advice to leaders, how do we hit the mark?
How do we provide valuable advice to true leaders?
During the last 15 years [perhaps, triggered by Stephen R. Covey?] much advice from the leadership experts/gurus is in the zone of touchy/feely altruism.
The more I think about this trend of touchy/feely/altruistic advice the more I think it is missing the mark. Sure, compassion/kindness/empathy/righteousness and greater-causes-than-self advice contains some value. I am not questioning that fact. I am questioning (1) the merit tied to that being the lion’s share of the advice and (2) whether or not that even half-fits “Western Culture” human beings who do business for a living.
For example, Simon Sinek wrote:
“Anyone could be a leader if there was no cost. True leaders willingly pay a price, to sacrifice self interest, to have the honor to lead.”
Simon is writing about sacrificing self-interest…and the message I am reading is – Sacrificing self-interest is a good thing for leaders to do.
I think human beings are pre-disposed to attend to and to serve their self-interests. That’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing. First, serving self-interest keeps us alive. We need food, shelter, etc. and sooner or later we must serve these basic self-interests or we die.
One question I’m asking: When do self-interests become problems that require a sacrifice-fix? As we work our way through Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’…do self-interests become problems after they go beyond Safety and Security…say, when they become ‘Self-actualisation’ interests? Are people like Simon Sinek [and other self-help gurus] trying to tell us self-actualisation is a bad thing?
If so, I think many of the business-leadership gurus are ahead of their time. They are sending messages to “Humans 1.0” that will not fit until many of us evolve into “Humans 2.0”…maybe not until we evolve into “Humans 3.0”.
Putting it another way – we [Humans 1.0] are predisposed to serve our basic self-interests, including safety needs and security needs, and we are also predisposed to serve our higher-interests, including self-actualisation. When self-help gurus tell us we should sacrifice any of these self-interests they are speaking in a language that will not make sense to us until we evolve into Humans 2.0 [or, perhaps, Humans 3.0].
PS: Bakespeare asked me to add, “It’s a flawed leap of logic that claims leaders who serve their self-interests are not true leaders. Never, in the history of Mankind, has a leader succeeded by not serving self-interests.”
PPS: My suggestions about Gandhi swayed Bakespeare just a tiny bit…he agreed people like Gandhi and Mother Theresa exemplify altruism and if they were alive today maybe they would support the self-sacrifice arguments presented by the business-leadership gurus. On the other hand, if they were alive today they probably would not be running businesses. We ought not compare business leaders with leaders like Gandhi and Mother Theresa.