The Power of Joyful Leadership
Here's a gem from the latest installment of my friend Don Iannone's Economic Development Futures Journal:
I have been noticing two interesting tendencies in the places where my consulting work takes me. The first is a tendency toward mean-spiritedness and desperation. The second is a tendency toward kindness and sacrifice for others. Of the two, the second is clearly preferred. And yes, both tendencies are found in all communities.Let's look at each.Suffering LeadersLeaders in many communities have allowed themselves to become calloused, jaded, ungrateful, judgmental of others, and overally self-critical. Some seem to excuse this behavior as appropriate and acceptable because "that's what leaders must do to get things done." This behavior exists in growing and declining communities alike.As I explore why these leaders are so unhappy, I discover that many suffer from two related conditions: low self-esteem and extreme egocentrism. Many leaders are unhappy because they can't wave a magic wand over the community and transform it into some "magical economic wonderland." Many suffer because they are obsessed with making businesses happy at the expense of people.I listen to what these leaders have to say when they ask my firm to take a "hard look" at their competitive advantages and what needs to be done to make the place more attractive to businesses. I see the leaders of these communities and states blaming themselves and their citizens for not doing enough for business competitiveness. As I listen to them further, I hear anger and blame, which masks the underlying fear, apprehension, and worry they carry around in their gut. I work at feeling compassion and understanding for these leaders. Joyful Leaders Then, there are leaders in places that demonstrate a sincere concern about people, unprecedented acts of kindness, caring, and generosity. I hear true empathy and compassion, and not blame and ridicule, in these leaders' voices. These places are also concerned about their competitiveness, but they are not willing to throw people aside at the expense of unaffordable incentive packages or other actions that permit businesses to do what they shouldn't do anywhere. I see a courage to care, love, and respect in the faces of these leaders. Joyful leaders are found in both growing and declining places.The second set of voices gives me hope that something we might call "humanistic economic development" is possible in our field in the future.