Published on: August 19, 2013by Kevin Coupe
The Los Angeles Times has a piece about a new book called "The Leader's Code: Mission, Character, Service and Getting the Job Done," by Donovan Campbell, a former US Marine Corps captain who served in Iraq.
Here are the passages from the article that grabbed my interest, and that prompted to immediately download a sample of the book to my Kindle app. (If I like the sample, I'll then order the book.)
"Campbell believes that the military model of servant leadership — in which leaders are the servants of the organizations they lead, not its masters — offers a useful guide. The two key ideas in his conception of leadership are 'character' and 'mission.'
"Character, as Campbell defines it, means strength of character, but also encompasses virtue — a word that appears often in this book. Leaders must do right by others; they should strive to make the world a better place for everyone, not simply plunder it for what they can get for themselves.
"That brings us to mission, which can be defined as a broader sense of purpose. One of the best passages in the book recounts how as a young officer in combat, Campbell came face to face for the first time with the idea of his own mortality. The notion that he might die caused him to question his previous beliefs about life and, in turn, put him in touch with a sense of purpose and an understanding of what leadership is for.
"Throughout the book, Campbell reiterates the same message. Leaders must sublimate themselves to the needs of others. They must remember that their mission is something much larger and more important than their individual needs, and be prepared to sacrifice themselves for the higher purpose."
In many ways, I think this plays into the broader discussion we've been having here on MNB about the disconnect between the executive suites at some companies and the people on the front lines - a disconnect that sometimes can be seen in pay disparities that reward top execs with opulent salaries and benefits but leave people on the front lines concerned about whether their minimum wages are living wages.
My argument has never been against appropriately high salaries for people who have worked their way to the top of any organization, nor has it been against the hardest working and highest achieving people in any organization making more money than less accomplished and dedicated peers. But I also think that one of the ways that companies can engender dedication and loyalty is to let the people on the front lines know that they are empowered and valued ... and that companies that favor the lowest common denominator when it comes to pay scales may end up with the lowest common denominator when it comes to employees. Sometimes, that may not matter. But sometimes, it will.
And leadership that encompasses virtue, character and a sense of a broader mission may define these issues differently than leadership that thinks in in terms of power and self-reward.
I'm looking forward to reading Campbell's book.
FYI ... the Amazon page for the book is here.
- KC's View: