In its latest survey of more than 800 business leaders from more than 35 countries and across all major industries, global research and advisory giant Gartner, Inc. identified growth as 2019’s top business objective. Couple this with studies demonstrating an alarming 35% drop in employee discretionary effort from 2014 to 2019, and it’s easy to wonder how this objective can be met. “At the same time business leaders have key objectives around growth,” Gartner VP Leah Johnson says, “we’ve got a relatively unmotivated workforce, a tight labor market, and we’re contending with a number of important and visible political and social issues.”
It begs the question: Is growth even possible in our current environment? Johnson is adamant it is—provided business managers lead the right way. “Employee experience is huge for 2019,” she says, explaining that current thoughts about ethical leadership have evolved to include employers who care about their employees’ emotional needs and provide training to ensure their future success in the changing world.
As leaders, where can we learn about this “evolved” ethical leadership? From whom can we learn to lead in a way that leads to growth? The answer might surprise you. History best remembers George C. Marshall as the driving force behind the Marshall Plan, which provided billions in aid to post war Europe. Few, however, realize his leadership style was directly responsible for a fortyfold growth in our armed forces, and that the groundbreaking leadership principles he applied during his career are exactly what today’s employees are looking for.
A quick look at Marshall’s leadership history provides three important lessons:
Business growth depends on successful leadership. George Marshall often said, “The soldier’s heart, the soldier’s spirit, the soldier’s soul are everything,” and he provides a powerful example of what we can accomplish when we lead people, rather than employees. Ethical leadership means more than simply leading with integrity, it also means leading with empathy.
Are you wondering how to lead more effectively? Would you like your managers to learn how to better motivate their teams? Let us help! Our unique approach to leadership training harnesses the power of experiential learning to teach time-proven leadership methods that get results. Let us share more leadership lessons from George Marshall in a workshop or staff retreat. You bring the team members, and we’ll create an immersive learning program, linking timeless historical examples with your individual workplace issues.
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George C. Marshall understood that to lead effectively, he must lead the person, and not just the soldier. What are some ways we could better lead our people? How could improved morale lead to better business? What changes would you like to see in your department? Please share your stories and ideas in the comments section, below.