The definition of great leadership is more than the impressive results on a financial statement.

Superior results are important.  As the former CEO of a Catholic health system once famously said, no margin, no mission.

Here is the point:  great leaders understand that the results a team produces, from patient safety and satisfaction, to the financial bottom line, are sustainable only through inspiration, authenticity, rich interpersonal relationships, and execution. 

It is not surprising then that senior executives who stumble and fail are generally those whose leadership emphasis was weighted heavily on results, apparently thinking that alone would carry the day.  They lacked what I call the reservoir of goodwill that is the foundation for those deep, rich relationships that drive enterprise-wide goodwill, loyalty and a passionate commitment to the greater good for the organization and its customers.

What started out as the Harvard MBA Oath, which emerged following the financial crisis, is now a worldwide pledge thousands of graduate students make each year. This oath, in essence, is a comprehensive embrace of this leadership precept – of putting the good of customers, employees and the communities that are served ahead of personal goals and glory.  Do those things and the results will follow, the oath’s creators believe.  

Building relations using traditional and digital approaches, is a new leadership essential in a transformative era.

© 2012 John Gregory Self