Being Radical in a Leadership Role

love is the ultimate motivation of the extreme leader love of ...Like many others, I have read and appreciated the insights of Steve Farber’s The Radical LEAP, and seen in many instances the various ways in which love, energy, audacity and power have been key ingredients in the advancing successes of our organizations.  And like many others, recent team successes in my own organization caused me to exercise a process I have found highly valuable.  In fact, I’ve noticed a very candid process among the more accomplished leaders:  They continually examine their purpose and motivation as it is expressed in their own ‘audacity’.

You may recall in the latter part of Radical LEAP the central figures of the book—Steve, and his unlikely mentor, Edg—return to a deeper examination of what precisely audacious means.  While Steve explains his understanding of how is own audacity has allowed him to be an effective mentor to others, it is the emphasis by Edg that brings about a significant emotional event for Steve.  Here is the turning point of their exchange.

Edg: “…Audacity is a ‘bold and blatant disregard for normal constraints.’  But if you look it up…you’ll see that it has a couple of connotations.  One is audacity as it relates to courage, and the other is the audacity synonymous with impudence, temerity, or brazenness.”

Then Edg crystalizes—for all of us—the difference by telling Steve, “…[T]he difference between the two meanings comes down to love versus ego…in other words, some people are audacious just for the purpose of drawing attention to themselves…”.

This impactful declaration is one all leaders must put to themselves by continually and candidly measuring their work.  This assessment also becomes increasingly imperative as organizations experience new forms of success.  Without this process, how exactly does a leader know why he or she is motivated to do what they are?  More importantly, if leaders do not genuinely challenge themselves to produce the evidence to show that the audacity in their own form of leadership is facilitated and utilized for love, then how can anyone else in the organization truly know if that leader really cares about them?

An additional challenge may exist in understanding what type or form of love may be involved.  That is both understandable and healthy.  That self-examination is both necessary and valuable no matter how many times the leader invokes this inward assessment.  But I do believe it is important for two distinct reasons.

First, I have found in most cases that the role of a leader doesn’t ‘grow’; it doesn’t actually take on more responsibility, more tasks, or more duties.  If anything, there can often be a mild reduction in the list of responsibilities a leader actually can count.

But that doesn’t mean the role of the leader has shrunk; quite the contrary.  What the effective leader finds rather quickly is that by working with and appropriately through their team members, the leader is able to provide real roles of responsibility to their charges that directly relate to the overall success of the organization; they allow those people to make decisions and employ strategies that enhance the team’s rate of advancement and they allow these newest leaders to enjoy those accomplishments alongside the rest of the team.

And as this occurs, the leader then begins to recognize both the new opportunities and the demands for them to be more involved with.  The perspective of the leader becomes wider, more informed, more aware.  The leader understands more, and in turn is caused to care more.

The second effect of the ongoing self-assessment is that the leader will continue to more accurately identify the other forms audacity being expressed throughout the organization and the motivation that fuels them.  When the leader of an organization successfully and thoroughly demonstrates that their own audacity is in fact borne and propelled by the depth of the caring they have for the purpose and mission of the organization, AND, the people who bring life and definition to that purpose and mission—success will be ever-present.

It is in this manner that leadership most vividly can be cultivated throughout an organization.  A relentless pursuit of audaciousness through the love the organization shares among its people, purpose and mission will provide lasting growth, learning and success.

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