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Einstein, The Universe, And Leadership

PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH: This article may be republished in newsletters and on web sites provided attribution is provided to the author, and it appears with the included copyright, resource box and live web site link. Email notice of intent to publish is appreciated but not required: mail to: brent@actionleadership.com Word count: 1200 Every since serving a hitch in the military, I have been nagged by the question that's been hanging around leadership since time immemorial: How can some leaders persuade people to believe in them and follow them and other leaders can't? But it wasn't the military that provided me with a framework to answer that question. It was Albert Einstein and his quest for the unified field theory of the universe. Einstein is well known for his special and general theories of relativity, two of the crowning intellectual achievements of the 20th century. But what he is not so well known for is a magnificent quest that he carried on for some 30 years and ultimately failed in.

That was his quest for a unified field theory of the universe, a theory that explains all the forces of the universe. And it was a quest that inspired me, in my small way, to find an answer to the leadership question. Einstein's special theory combined space and time into a single concept known as the space-time continuum. He spent the rest of his life failing to develop a unified field theory that incorporated gravity into the electromagnetic field. But it wasn't his trying to solve the conundrums of physics that inspired me.

It was his trying to unify the grand forces of the universe that's so compelling. Just as there are grand forces driving the activities of the universe, I'm convinced that there are grand forces driving the activities of leadership. Whether we are talking about small or large organizations, organizations of butchers, bakers or candlestick makers, the same leadership forces leadership laws, if you will apply. Or at least that I was my theory, that was my quest: to find the laws of leadership, if they did indeed exist, and then show how those laws can be applied in any organizational challenge. In short, we can have a "unified field theory of leadership." I won't go into the details of how I came to develop the theory only that after a quest of several decades, working with leaders of all stripes, I developed what I call the Unified Field Theory of Leadership Success. I'm certainly not unifying such grand concepts as gravity and the electromagnetic field; but my theory, in its small way, has helped many leaders around the world raise their leadership effectiveness to much higher levels. Here then is the Unified Field Theory of Leadership Success. It is not magic dust to transform you into a great leader. It is instead a polestar to guide and help you invigorate your leadership and communication efforts.

The UFTLS is expressed as a series of four propositions. (1) BUSINESS SUCCESS HAPPENS WHEN PEOPLE GET RESULTS. Clearly, this is not some strange, UFO- like concept. Instead, it is a BFO a Blinding Flash of the Obvious. Yet obvious or not, it is ignored by many leaders too many leaders. Too many leaders focus on enabling such drivers as quality initiatives, re-engineering projects, and cost-cutting programs at the expense of the people who must animate those drivers. For instance, I know of a company that is engaged in the fourth major restructuring in the past half dozen years. Three of those initiatives have failed, mainly because they ignored the human/leadership aspect. In fact, I propose that the new initiative is doomed to fail too. It's obvious why: instead of being driven by a compelling market strategy, strong products, or a vision of marketplace leadership, this new restructuring is being driven by a new computer system! The officers are restructuring the company primarily to better employ that system, not to better employ people for results.

I daresay the light that they may perceive to be at the end of the tunnel will turn out in truth to be a search party looking for survivors. (2) LEADERS DO NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT THAN GET RESULTS. Another seemingly obvious statement. Yet when I give talks to leaders around the world, and ask them, "What is the most important thing you do as a leader?" some 95 percent of them give every answer but this one. This is the right answer. Understand the power in the seeming passiveness of "have." Leaders cannot get results by themselves. They need others to help get those results. Today, with speed, flexibility, and teamwork being driving competitiveness, the control-freak order-leader who must tyrannize and micro manage can't compete against the leader who can build and motivate teams to get results. In short, the leader who can "have" others get results.

(3) THE BEST WAY TO HAVE PEOPLE GET RESULTS IS NOT TO ORDER THEM BUT TO MOTIVATE THEM. Like leadership purpose, motivation is another concept that is misunderstood by many leaders. If we misunderstand the concept of motivation, how in the world can we motivate anybody to do anything? Here are the four "eternal truths" of motivation: A. Motivation is not something people think or feel but what they PHYSICALLY DO. Only when people take physical action can they in truth be defined as "motivated." B. Motivation is not something we can do to anyone. We as leaders can only communicate. The people we want to motivate must motivate themselves.


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