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15 and 50…

Observing leadership communications and leadership style have been an enthralling side benefit I have enjoyed throughout my career.  Of course in 2016 we are witnessing a big dose of our Presidential candidates’ leadership communications style.  I wonder what the journalists and historians will write 15 and 50 years from now.

What leadership communications style do you prefer?  Those who boast; blare; and blurt out the bigness of their bravado?  Those who calmly convey a collaborative and conservative approach?  Do we prefer political experience?  Intellectual superiority?  Business acumen?  All of the above?  Have your preferences changed over the past 15 or 50 years?

It’s been longer than 50 years, but Abraham Lincoln is recognized as one of America’s greatest leaders.  He had a particular leadership communication style, true?  What do you remember of his persona – his physical image?  His story-telling?  His unique way of managing people and politics?

My policy is to have no policy. 

Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln’s flexibility and willingness to adapt his “policies” to short-term circumstances is considered legendary.  But from a principled perspective almost every Presidential decision he made was grounded on saving the Union as being paramount above all else.  I think they will continue writing about Lincoln’s leadership 15 and 50 years from now.

Maybe you prefer leaders that advocate family-friendly work environments.  Much is being written these days about work-life balance; challenging and fulfilling assignments; the “gig economy”; more paid time off.  Of course, smart leaders don’t worry about employee vacation time – perhaps they follow the teachings of our favorite Unknown Sage:

Luten’s Laws

When properly administered, vacations do not diminish productivity: for every week you’re away and get nothing done, there’s another week when your boss is away and you get twice as much done.

Yes, I’ve enjoyed observing leaders and their communication style for more than 50 years.  Not just business leaders; but world leaders, sports leaders, even the leadership my wife displays as the patriarch of our family.  I’ve hoped some of their greatness has rubbed off on me – or at least appeared to have rubbed off:

The difference between being an elder statesman and posing successfully as an elder statesman is practically negligible. 

T.S. Eliot

Recently, Evan Goldberg Chairman and Founder of my company NetSuite, was interviewed for the benefit of the employees.  One leadership communication challenge is maintaining “contact” with employees when the company grows from a start-up to a multi-national corporation.  It’s been just a few more than 15 years since Evan launched his company with a great idea; a handful of employees; and a passion to succeed.

During this interview, one of the questions he was asked was about the type of employees he relies on to help with the company’s continued growth and success.  Evan cited two main attributes.

First, he looks for people who have “casual intensity”.  I like that description!  He described this attribute as those who work hard; invest long hours; willingly make personal sacrifice, without making a big deal about their efforts (and sacrifices).  These are the people Evan said that just go about getting the job done.

And the second quality of employee he prefers are those types of people you would enjoy going out to lunch with.  Coincidently, this attribute was echoed by my best friend Steve:

Never trust someone who doesn’t go out to lunch with you.

Well, truth be told I’m not much of a go-out-for-lunch-type.  It’s OK though – I doubt anyone will remember that 15 or 50 years from now.

GAP

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