May 15, 2018 | Leadership

Over the past 10 years, I have been honored to explore and debate the essence of power with Dr. Tony Baron. Specifically, how power impacts leadership, how leadership impacts culture, and, ultimately, how culture impacts performance.  

With a double doctorate in psychology and theology and decades of executive coaching experience with Fortune 100 companies, you can imagine the depth and breadth that Tony adds to the subject. We are currently co-authoring a book that combines Tony’s scholarship and my straight talk about the challenges faced by today’s leaders. Meanwhile, I will be sharing guest posts by Tony from time to time to give you a taste of what it’s like to have an amazing colleague and friend like Tony Baron. – Sheri Nasim

The world of work is going through dramatic changes. For the first time in history, five generations are working side by side. Baby Boomers are retiring at the rate of 14,000 per day. 18 months from now, 50% of the global workforce will be made up of Millennials. Today’s employees want more than a paycheck. They want work that has purpose.

At the same time, companies are more global and the workforce is more diverse than ever before. Today’s leaders are handling a tsunami of technological distractions that would have been unimaginable just 20 years ago.

Successful leaders of the 21st century tap into the fundamentals to guide their teams through an increasingly complex work environment. Consider these seven fundamental leadership virtues that transcend time.

1. Truth. The first requirement for every leader throughout time is the ability to assess reality correctly. Yet, we live in an age of “truthiness.” Bad news is shaven, shorn, and often completely misrepresented out of fear, or an unwillingness to deal with conflict. What are you doing as a leader to ensure that you are getting accurate information?

2. Beauty. Socrates believed that the purpose of education is to teach people to love what is beautiful. A radiant sunset. A grandmother’s smile. An act of kindness. These are the transcendental things that lift us from the de-humanizing aspects of life. How much time are you building into your schedule to contemplate and reflect on the beauty around you?

3. Spirituality. Consider this. What if we are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience? You don’t have to subscribe to an organized religion to acknowledge that our spirits soar in an environment where we are inspired, equipped, and encouraged. How can you create a culture that feeds the human spirit?

4. Relationships. Every human being has the need to love and to be loved. The decades of information that I collected on workplace violence showed that the most disturbed members of our society are those who are most isolated. Leadership is a relationship. What are you doing to broaden your relationships beyond your circle of direct reports?

5. Freedom. Coercion and manipulation are de-humanizing. They may produce short-term results, but eventually people will revolt against such behavior. To flourish, people need the space to make decisions, take chances, and course correct without fear. Are you creating an environment for sharing lessons learned – both positive and negative – with your team?

6. Justice. Spend an hour watching preschool children playing a game, and you’ll eventually hear one of them say, “That’s not fair!” The natural sense of justice that we have as children is part of our human ethos. Are you using your position and power to self-serve? Or, are you creating a culture of equal opportunity to benefit from a just system of rewards?

7. Power. A team at Berkeley recently showed through MRI studies that, when a person gets power, a hit of dopamine shoots to the brain. At the same time, the ability to empathize is suppressed. To counteract this effect, leaders must continuously, intentionally “think about what they are thinking about.” Doing so over time will burn new neural pathways in the brain. What are you doing each day to ensure that you are using your power and position as an opportunity to serve the needs of others?

Leadership is about more than power or strength. It is about being aware of the life you model and the lives you touch.

Question: Which of these virtues resonate with where you are as a leader today?


Dr. Tony Baron is Distinguished Scholar-In-Residence at Center for Executive Excellence and an internationally recognized speaker, writer, corporate consultant, professor and the San Diego Director of Azusa Pacific University Graduate School of Theology.

Dr. Baron is the author of six books, including The Art of Servant Leadership and a workbook manual co-written with noted author and business leader Ken Blanchard. Throughout his career, he has worked with hundreds of companies including Ford Motor Company, Coca Cola Company, Warner Brothers Studios, and Boeing, among many others.



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