Leadership Thought #405 – Limit Your Casualties And Maximize Your Allies

September 25, 2012

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In my experience, there are two types of leaders: those who build alliances across the span of their career and those who leave casualties in their wake.  It is always a pleasure to work with people who operate in the former category.  Leaders require followers and the more people who see themselves in your camp the better.  At the end of your career, you will hopefully be able to look back and see many lives that you have changed for the better and a large number of mutually beneficial relationships.  Approaching life from a win-win perspective just makes plain common sense.

What fascinates and disturbs me are leaders who take the opposite approach to their relationships. They view life as a win-lose perspective.  People exist merely to help them advance their agenda and can be discarded once they have served their purpose. To them, life is a contact sport to be played to your advantage regardless of consequences for others.  Frankly, I don’t know how someone sleeps at night when they make millions of dollars by making decisions that adversely affect other people (especially their own employees).  Life is not a zero sum game.  If you have to live in a high security gated community, maybe you should take a look in the mirror and ask yourself why.

No one is every truly successful alone.  Behind every accomplished person is a long line of people who helped him or her get there whether they want to acknowledge this fact or not.  Never lose sight of how you are climbing the corporate ladder or scaling the mountain of life success.  Operate with integrity and be true to your core values.  Be generous and share your good fortune.  Create growth opportunities for other people and invest in their potential.  Mentor others who follow your example.  Share the credit whenever possible.  Be gracious rather than braggadocios when good things happen.  Lift people up rather than hold them down.

It is inevitable that you will stumble at some point.  It helps to have a group of friends and colleagues who are ready, willing, and able to catch you when you fall and to prop you back up afterwards because they want to, not because they have to.

The best leaders intuitively understand that we are all in this thing called life together.  They attract people to their organization or cause because of who they are and what they do, not only because of what they have or accomplish.  It is only lonely at the top if you let it get that way.  Do your best to limit your casualties and maximize your allies.  It will make a big difference in the end.