You’ve heard this myth often, expressed in different ways:
- “It’s lonely at the top.”
- “The buck stops here.”
- “Never let them see you sweat.”
What’s wrong with these aphorisms? Nothing, as long as we consume them in small doses. But swallowed whole and as our only diet, they lead us to conclude the wrong things about the nature of leadership and create confusion.
The Views on Leadership are Distorted
Most leadership pundits talk about morale in business the same way they’d describe cotton candy at a state fair. Everybody likes it; nobody’s against it. It’s fun to have. But in essence, it’s just a sugary substance spun with a lot of hot air.
I beg to differ.
Morale has substance. It has weight. And it matters. It’s not something a leader spins from hot air; it is something that a leader can grow only over time and with unremitting attention. If you think leadership is all about “hitting the numbers,” and that soft and squishy stuff like morale is no different than cotton candy, think again.
The late Roger Milliken, former CEO of Milliken &Co., and winner of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, once put it this way: Continue reading