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Leadership Articles: TALKING LEADERSHIP

 

A Feature Article from Gaynor Consulting Inc.
February 2017   |   By Dan Gaynor

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Thinking "Corporate"

Like so much of our language, the word “corporate” has taken on new meanings over the years, many of them not very flattering. Often when we hear it we think of power, money, cold-hearted leaders, business in it’s worst manifestations. A look at its classic definition provides a different perspective. Our english word corporate gets its roots in the latin word for the body, corpus. It literally means to form one body of many members.

We can draw insight from this perspective as we consider corporate life in all its forms - business, non-profit organizations, community groups or any other situation in which people come together to work or play.

The classic definition of corporate gives us powerful insight into organizational life and leadership. it carries with it implications that are worth thinking about, regardless of where you lead. It’s helpful to see the organization then as a corporate body.

Let’s start with the idea that corporate gets at the reality that we are at once highly individual and at the same time connected to everyone else who is part of the group. The contributions of one affect all. Whether or not we like it, we rise and fall together.

There is a reciprocal relationship within every corporate body. The body needs strong members; the members need a strong body. When the body is strengthened everyone benefits; when it is weakened everyone suffers. The body will only ever be as strong as its members and what they contribute. When one contributes even a little more, the entire body is strengthened for everyone. When one contributes less, or undermines the effort in any way, the body is weakened for all. This is why great leaders treat every performance like it really matters.

At newspapers across Canada, I shared this thinking in my own way, with the many different teams I led. I held a staff meeting, usually within a few days of my arrival. Among my comments, I told everyone that I believed people were the most important part of every newspaper. I waited for the predicable response, “Oh, he’s one of those guys, those people guys.” Then I would continue, “No, I really mean it. So if I really believe that people are the most important part of this newspaper, I will treat every performance like it really matters. I will insist on your best and accept nothing less.”

When you really believe people and what they do matters, it carries with it a responsibility to pay attention, and it sends the message to team members that they must approach work as though what they do really does make a difference. There can be no free rides. I have always believed that people want to make a difference, they want their contributions to matter. I sent this message early and often. I supported it with strong caring performance management throughout the organization.

In a strong corporate body there are no unimportant contributions. So how does your leadership team treat the development of the organization? Does every member of your leadership team treat the work of each individual as indispensable? How would this corporate perspective change the way you lead?

Want to go deeper into good leadership? I wrote, The Heart and Hands of Leadership: The Twelve Timeless Practices of Effective Leaders to pass on what I’ve learned through a career of building strong teams. Or consider some individual coaching or a leadership group workshop.

To go deeper on leadership call or write about a half day workshop or a keynote address.

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A Feature Article from Gaynor Consulting Inc.
February 2017   |   By Dan Gaynor

 

Has this article sparked some thinking?
Join our blog Talking Leadership here to share it with other readers.



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