The Legitimate Leadership Model is based on the proposition that the best way to achieve your own interests is to pursue the other person’s self-interest. Because when you do that, that person’s natural response is to give back.
Conventionally, if managers or leaders are asked what their job is, they will reply that it is to get results out of their people (because that is what they are measured on).
But you don’t elicit willingness from people by being a taker. We say you elicit willingness as a leader when you are a giver.
But that giving is of two specific types: the gift of care, and the gift of growing people.
So Legitimate Leadership argues for a change of intent, a change of heart in leaders.
We summarise this by saying that leaders need to give care and growth.
When care and growth happens, the effect can be extraordinary. Care and growth does not impact on the result directly but it increases the legitimacy of leadership, trust in management, and employee contribution (resulting in more exceptional contributors and fewer poor contributors).
It also increases people’s ownership or taking of accountability. And it enables leaders to do the flipside of that – namely, holding people accountable. Increased accountability must be good for business.
You don’t have to do anything to motivate people. All you have to be – and it’s not a small “all” – is the kind of person that people are motivated by. In other words, the project is you, the leader. And this is so tenfold in a crisis.
Leaders who are revered have a soft and a brave heart, they have compassion and courage.
How then does kindness express itself in the good leadership?
Kindness is generally in short supply among leaders in organisations: it is not kind to use people as the means to the end of producing results; it is not kind to basically ignore people’s needs and not genuinely listen to them and have concern for them; it is not kind to take all the glory and make yourself bigger by making other people small.
So good leadership is really about bringing back the humanity into organisations.
But we shouldn’t confuse kind with nice. Care and growth is tough love. You don’t enable people by being nice to them. Caring and growing people is not for sissies, but it is being kind to them.