September 25, 2011

Leadership and Intention

When people share the same intention pyramids can be built and large banks can fail. Intentionality does not always flow from leadership. More often leadership flows from intention. Like Moses leading the Jews from Egypt, Gandhi led a billion people to their freedom with humility and grace. Yet, Gandhi said that he was led by his people. Oracle is the dominant company in its space with a near $150B market cap, yet no one would accuse it’s founder/CEO Larry Ellison of being humble. It’s my humble opinion that leaders are almost arrogant about the intention of their belief, whether that’s politics, religion, business or freedom. Their intention, or the intention of the group is either to impose their beliefs on others i.e. pyramids, or to persuade others that their intentions are worthy of others to follow or possess, i.e. Christianity or Oracle. But a passionate leader must never hijack the intentions of the group. Effective leaders share the group’s intention, they invite participation and closeness to the intention, they themselves humbly open their arms to the group and say, “show me how to help you achieve our shared intention.” The success of the group, the achievement of the intention MUST be shared by all.

Which may be why no one on Wall Street has gone to jail for the mortgage securities “fraud” that led to the financial meltdown: the intention of opening up the opportunity to less or unqualified buyers to experience a part of the American Dream (home ownership under the Community Reinvestment Act) was born by the government, enabled by Freddie and Fannie and packaged and sold by the investment banks. Because the banks were simply the conduit through which government’s intention was channeled, it’s difficult to pin the failure of the system to a few Wall Street firms.


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