Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Leaders as Weather Vanes

In the 70th anniversary edition of Forbes, I found a wonderful 1915 quote from Charles Mitchell, the President of National City Bank of NY (today's Citibank).

Mitchell said,

"The principal duty of the head of an organization in the formative, developing stage is to pump, pump, pump energy into every fiber of it, to train thoroughly every member of it, and to infuse into every employee white-heat enthusiasm."

Wise words.

A vital lesson for developing leaders is that leadership is a public act. The gestures, facial expressions, and postures of leaders project across the whole organization. Like a weather vane, the comportment of the leader is a viewed as a predictor of the future climate. Leaders must be sensitive that employees will seek answers to the state of the company, health of its prospects, etc in the physical countenance and tone of the leader.

As President Mitchell's quote implies, leaders are also conductors of energy and must be careful to inject vitality, passion, and drive into the culture and not apathy, malaise, and surrender.

90 years later, Mitchell's words of leaders "pump, pump, pumping energy into every fiber" of a business ring as true as ever.

1 comment:

  1. Cate Long3:38 AM

    An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man... Emerson...