Last September I took my father on fishing trip to Alaska to celebrate my 50th birthday. It was a week that I’ll never forget. From Anchorage, we flew into a fishing village called King Salmon and then took a 30-minute float plane to our remote fishing camp. I’d never seen more brown bears and bald eagles in my lifetime.
I learned that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service officially listed the bald eagle as a national endangered species in 1976. I also learned the bald eagle, one of the first species to receive protections under the Endangered Species Act, was removed from the Federal list of Endangered Species in 1995.
Numbers were once as low as 500 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states. Fortunately, bald eagle numbers have rebounded since then and now the lower 48 states boast more than 5,000 nesting pairs. Today there is a total of about 70,000 bald eagles in all of North America, including Alaska.
When you are on a fishing boat eight hours a day you have plenty of time to think. It was there, in the remotest part of Alaska, that I realized what I’ve dedicated the last 20 years of my life to and where I will dedicate the next 20 years — I want to help put the old command and control leader on the Federal list of Endangered Species.
Have you ever worked for an authoritative, command and control leader? The world was full of them 40 years ago. Thank heavens that leadership styles have changed over the last two generations. But there are still millions and millions of command and control leaders alive and well. And it is our job, as heart-led leaders to put them on the Endangered Species list.
I remember when I first worked for a command and control leader. I was 30 and just named president and CEO of a renowned global leadership organization. The founder of this organization was one of the most talented visionaries this world has ever seen. I learned more from this man than just about any person I’ve even been blessed to know – both for the good and bad. This founder, who was nearly 40 years my senior, was a classic command and control leader. And you only have to work for a command and control leader once to learn that you never want to work for another again.
Command and control was the way most leaders led 40 or 50 years ago. But the world has changed. And if your leadership style has not also changed, then you and your organization will wind up on the Endangered Species list.
What I’ve learned from working for and studying authoritarian, command and control leaders is that they possess these 10 leadership qualities and traits:
- Crying or showing emotion is a form of weakness
- Admitting fault is a weakness
- Take the credit always
- Fear is the best motivator
- Arrogance is king
- Humility is weak
- Vulnerability is weak
- Hold your cards close to your chest – never be transparent
- Think and act like you are the smartest person in the room
- It’s all about me
What I’ve learned over the years is that one can’t lead by these qualities and traits anymore. Command and control leaders are culture killers. They break people down, not build leaders up. They are diminishers, not multipliers. They love and serve themselves more than they love and serve others. And the sad fact is they are still alive today filling positions and roles as mothers and fathers, principals, CEOs, presidents, chairmen, managing partners, heads of medicine, chancellors, vice-presidents, teachers, coaches and many more. I’ve been coaching leaders and organizations for the last 20 years and I’ve learned this: many organizations, companies, schools and teams are still being led by command and control leaders.
Heart-led leaders lead differently. They are the absolute opposite of command and control. They connect the head and the heart. They develop people. They love and serve. And they put others before themselves.
Heart-led leader’s believe:
- Showing emotion makes you human
- “I was wrong” are three powerful words in leadership
- “I don’t know” are three more powerful words in leadership
- Love is the best motivator
- Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less often
- Vulnerability shows strength
- Transparency is king
- Point the finger to others when things go right AND point the finger to yourself when things go wrong
- Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you
- “It’s not about you” are the four most important words in leadership
Have you ever worked for a heart-led leader? Have you ever been married to one? Have you ever had a heart-led leader on your team? They are life, team and organization changers. They lead in a very different way. More fascinating, they produce higher long-term, bottom-line results than the old command and control way of leading.
So, you don’t need to fly on a float plane to a remote fishing village to understand that there is a new leadership philosophy that is transforming teams and organizations. And, it is our job as heart-led leaders to put the command and control leaders on the Endangered Species list. And you don’t need the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to help. It begins and ends with you.