Back to The Journey of Health and Well-being for West Virginia and the World

Leadership, the WVU way!

Considering the stunning talent we have here, my next thought focuses on leadership.

What is it?

I think leadership is the ability to empower people to see more capability and magic in them than they would otherwise. There is data to support this Pygmalion Effect, which stemmed from a famous psychology experiment. The exercise involved a group of students who performed higher on testing merely by being given greater expectations. People meet your expectations in many ways.

Great leaders understand that Henry Ford’s adage – Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right – is really true.

Jim Collins, in the book Good to Great, wrote about level 5 leaders who helped good companies become great. These leaders tend to stay out of the limelight and focus more on the performance of the team or organization than on their own fame and reputation. These leaders operate under this formula: humility + will = success.

These are leaders who understand that great leaders look in the mirror when things go wrong and out the window when things go well.

Here’s an interesting perspective: Fortune 500 Company boards say the most important attributes in their CEOs are honesty and integrity. These personal attributes underlie trust. In turn, trust may be the most important relationship-building determinant, and great leaders earn trust by keeping their promises and commitments.

Malcolm Gladwell reported in Blink that we make up our mind about people and things within a fraction of a second. Thus, integrity is critical for trust, trust is essential for relationships, and almost all leadership relies on talent and culture.

In a previous post, I referenced Corps Business: The 30 Management Principles of the US Marines. Leaders in the Marines have skin in the game and support the folks working on the front line.

Jay Barney, former professor at Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business, said the only real sustainable, competitive advantages are complex social interactions. New products or services can be mirrored, made less expensive, and commoditized. Cultural interactions, however, are the exception. They are hard to replicate.

Skin in the game, honesty, cultural excellence, and seeing an abundant future are critical elements of the leaders we seek here. That is how we will go first!