The new Leader to Leader magazine has an interesting summary of Peter Georgescu's new book The source of success: Five enduring principles at the heart of real leadership. Mr. Georgescu is chairman emeritus of the advertising agency, Young & Rubicam, and proposes that the standard paradigms of leadership espoused in many best sellers are becoming increasingly irrelvant. Why - because the global economy (and particularly that of the U.S.A.) is moving from one dominated by excess demand to one of excess supply. The consumer demand of the 1950s through the early 1990s fueled increasing demand that seemed unsatiable. However, in the late 1980s, price became the focus of many businesses. Georgescu now proposes that demand and price cannot be the continuing focus as products look more and more the same - commoditized. Products that consumers will buy will be unique, different, and tailored to individual interests. This movement will require different leadership and organization strategies.
The leadership Georgescu predicts will be one based on five principles. The first principle is creativity. In his words, "creative capacity and brand value are an organization's most important asset" and to maintain the creativity that establishes value, employees have to be freed to make their best contributions. The second principle is enlightened leadership, the kind that causes employees to say, "there's nowhere else I would ever want to work." When employees say this, customers will begin to say, "there's no one else I'd rather buy from." The third principle is achieving competency and excellence in execution. In such an environment, every employee relationship with a customer is an opportunity for marketing, assuring the consumer that there is full confidence and excellence in the product. The fourth principle is alignment among management, employees, financial analysts and consumers that assures that the product in question is superior in fact and perception. The final and fifth principle is that values count. Basic human values will dominate the relationships among organizations and consumers and these include honesty, integrity, and respect for yourself and others. With these core values and accountability to actualize them, there will be trust. Without them, trustful relationships cannot be established.
While this summary may appear only to be relevant to for-profit companies, my own head quickly bridged to the relationship between education and students, families, and employer consumers. Further, I began to wonder about the role of values-based leadership learning, especially leadership that fosters creativity, enlightened leadership that supports it, commitment to excellence, alignment from creation to delivery of the product, and a commitment to shared human values. Are we on the verge of the end of the world as we knew it and is there actually a better world ahead?