Quality, value, and customer service are often integrated into the vision, mission, values, and guiding principles. Some better-known Brand U guiding principles are:
- Nike: ‘Just do it’ and ‘I can’
- Lockheed Martin: ‘Mission success’
- Forbes Magazine: ‘Capitalist tool’
- Hertz: ‘Exactly’
- No more glass ceilings
- Equal representation of the sexes at all levels of government
- Understanding and celebration of gender differences
- It’s okay to be single
- Control over childbirth
- Community based childcare
- Human scaled institutions
- Equal education for women throughout the world
- A clean environment based on principles of sustainability
- Less war, crime, and violence[i]
[i] Wagner, Cynthia, “Women’s Preferred Futures,” World Future Society, 1997.
Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions.
Harold Geneen, CEO ITT
Why are sports coaches becoming Brand U business leaders? One reason is that they succeeded as Brand U leaders in sports. So, isn’t Brand U leadership transferable? From the top to an organization’s bottom, Brand U managers spend more time coaching and building virtual project teams. They must constantly transform organizations and rebuild people systems. Often this doesn’t follow a mental cookbook, 1-2-3 process.
The Brand U leadership paradigm requires intuitive skills, engaging and inspiring each team member, and being flexible as coach/mentor/leader/manager as circumstances dictate. These are often abstract, left-right brain skills that many follow-the-rule bosses don’t get.[i]
[i] Bryant, Adam, “Business Advice from the Sidelines,” NY Times, March 6, 1998, p. C1.
Going a step further into the unknown, Gay Hendricks and Kate Ludeman, authors of The Corporate Mystic, assert that corporations and organizations are full of spiritual mystics. The authors propose that “successful corporate leaders of the twenty-first century will be spiritual leaders.”[i]
When I read this, I thought it was a little too new-agey for me. I thought that mystics belonged in a monastery or cathedral not a modern day organization. The authors propose that corporate mystics are fundamental leaders who “operate from a base of integrity, pursue their vision, and inspire the entire organization to reflect the vision.”
[i] Hendricks, Gay, Ludeman, Kate, The Corporate Mystic, Bantam, 1996, p. xviii.
Brand U leadership can also be defined by circumstances. When a critical situation arises, a Brand U leader will arise. So today, we’re seeing Brand U leaders in all areas of an organization arising from the force of circumstances because of employee empowerment, corporate restructuring, information explosion, and pace of change.
Another common difference between a leader and manager is around the issue of control. A ‘control’ freak or micromanager has managed us at one time or another. This person focuses on work minutiae. He or she must bless every decision. Micromanagers control by policies, procedures, rules, ratios, matrices, formulas, models and straightjacket budgets. Innovation tends to suffocate in these atmospheres. Brand U leadership inspires, engages, dares, dialogues, and challenges.
It’s hard to imagine recasting Jesus Christ or Attila the Hun as management consultants. Even putting the two together in a sentence jangles. However, that is what’s being done. There are a number of best selling management books about historical and recent heroes who embodied value based leadership including Lao Tzu, Sitting Bull, and Jesus.
Other books have focused on recent leaders, managers or investors as the metaphor for success, including Warren Buffet, the investor; Jack Welch of GE; and Lee Iacocca of Chrysler. For example, one of the books, the Genius of Sitting Bull draws parallels between Sitting Bull’s leadership abilities and contemporary management. The author compares the healthcare industry to the disparate, disorganized tribes that Sitting Bull united into a cohesive fighting and working unit. In much the same way, companies use leadership metaphors and examples of teams and individuals that succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations.
Peter Senge, the author of the Fifth Discipline defines ‘structure’ in terms of feedback interactions and relationships within a system. Companies are not machines where an action begets a direct response. “Companies are actually living organisms, not a machine,” he says.[i] Leaders shouldn’t try to impose or drive change. Leaders should try to cultivate change. Change agents are not mechanics who should be seen as someone to fix a broken machine but as organizational gardeners.
[i] Webber, Alan, “Learning for a Change,” Fast Company, May, 1999, p. 184.
What’s the best leadership model? Or, is there even such a thing as a leadership model? Can it be the Marine Corps? Well, the Marine Corps is a well-respected mobile fighting unit that gets its mission done. And, some businesses are implementing its leadership model.
Part of the Marine Corps leadership model is the ‘rule-of-three.’ A person should limit his or her attention to three tasks or goals. It’s pretty simple. There are infinite possibilities in any situation, which can short circuit decision-making. The rule-of-three says cut down the options to three alternative courses of action. Otherwise, a marine or anyone becomes overextended and confused especially in stressful situations such as in a fire-fight. A corporal has a three-person fire team; a sergeant has a squad of three fire teams; a lieutenant has three squads; and so on. Since everyone is taught to be an effective decision-maker, authority is pushed to the lowest level.[i]
[i] Freedman, David, “Corps Values,” Inc. Magazine, April, 1998, pp. 54.63.
Brand U manager attributes include:
- Help others develop personal leadership skills
- Abandon command-and-control management. Lead by collaborating, coaching and facilitating
- Take responsibility for the culture and performance of your group
- Move from enforcing compliance with job requirements to creating relationships that inspire participation in achieving goals[i]
[i] Quoted in Alter, Allan, “3M’s Leadership Journey,” Computerworld, December 14, 1998, p. 75.