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Standing Out? Or Fitting In?


If you're a leader...whether you're leading a team of 10, a department of 100, or an organization of 1,000 or more, do you stand out? Or do you fit in?

It used to be...

...that you wanted to stand out. Everyone recognized you as the "go-to-person." Your effectiveness as a leader was dependent on what you brought to the role, your charisma, your intelligence, your ability to make quick decisions. Plus, whatever other personality traits and skill sets were deemed critical for the job. It was about you, out in front, yelling back, "Follow me!"

But not anymore.

Today's picture of an effective leader is someone who "fits in." Who works to understand the values and opinions of their teammates, department members, or company's employees. Why? In order to have a productive dialogue with them about what they believe in as a group, what they stand for, and therefore, what actions the team/department/company should take.

Leadership is now ...

  • the ability to help shape --not dictate -- what people already want --not have-- to do
  • helping people reach consensus on what matters to them
  • bonding with followers in a sense of shared identity that provides a blueprint for action
  • about representing a common "us"

It's no longer about forcing people to comply with what you (and maybe a group of six other "senior leaders") think an organization of 1,000+ employees ought to do.

Sounds good. But does anyone really lead this way? Sure. Lots of leaders do.

One of Iowa's shining examples is Ted Townsend, CEO of St. Luke's Hospital in Cedar Rapids. In the September 3-9 issue of the Corridor Business Journal, Mr. Townsend talks about his philosophy of employee engagement and sense of ownership...and how St. Luke's is a Top 100 hospital nationally, recognized in '07 as one of the nation's premier success stories for patient satisfaction.

Who does Mr. Townsend credit for those results? You got it. The nearly 3,000 associates of St. Luke's...the physicians, nurses, technicians, clerical and administrative staffs, and yes, the plumbers and carpenters. 

By fitting in, and representing a common "us," Ted Townsend is leading an organization that stands out within the healthcare industry.

Photo on flickr by Jason Botter 


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Thank you for linking to the Employee Factor blog. I find your site very interesting and informative.

Judy McLeish
Employee Factor Blog

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