Opinion: The Value of Authentic Leadership

David Jobe, President, Leadership Conferences

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There are new books, ideas, pamphlets, white papers and studies on leadership coming out all the time. Going by the publishing industry, you would think that what it takes to be a good leader changes constantly.

And sure, as times change, the culture changes and technology advances, different leadership skills might fall in and out of fashion. But I believe there are core qualities of leadership that transcend all of that.

I just finished reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book about Abraham Lincoln, “Team of Rivals,” and saw the movie “Lincoln,” which used Goodwin’s book as primary source material. You can’t enjoy that double whammy of Lincoln without realizing his leadership skills are as applicable today as they were 150 years ago. When you consider the monumental tasks he had—freeing a people, preserving a union and binding the nation’s wounds—Lincoln stands in front of every American president as a benchmark. His presidency, which occurred in a moment of exceptional moral passion in our great country’s history, is a case study in high-caliber leadership—and offers lessons that simply do not fade with time.

Of all the skills Lincoln demonstrated, his emotional intelligence and his ability to listen thoughtfully to both sides of an argument were vital. When you consider his ability to do this under excruciating circumstances, it’s almost dumbfounding. (Just think of the kind of convenience store this guy could have built!)

But while Lincoln’s circumstances were extreme, his leadership skills are relevant to all kinds of situations. In building a business, you have to listen to customers, employees, suppliers and owners, including those who do not agree with you. The future of a nation may not be riding on your shoulders, but it can still feel that way.

At a time when all looked lost for our nation, one of the most important things Lincoln did was to travel to the battlefield to visit with the Union troops, face to face. He also had “office hours” in the White House, during which he would receive interested citizens. He knew that he could not lead from behind closed doors.

We’re not going to solve all of our nation’s problems at the Outlook Leadership Conference, but we will put this leadership lesson from Lincoln into practice. At this year’s conference, “Authentic Leadership Drives Results,” to be held Nov. 16-19, meeting face to face is what it is all about. The right leaders in the right environment together, building critical relationships, can help us overcome the constant challenges associated with running a business.

Leading the workforce of tomorrow is different. Today’s research shows younger generations want leaders who give back, care about people and foster collaboration. They desire authentic leadership. Authentic leaders are most successful when they build trust and generate enthusiastic support from their workforce.

The 2014 conference delivers enhanced leadership-focused sessions specifically targeted to help increase your profits and enrich your life. With programming such as the Thayer Leadership Boot Camp, a robust Capital Markets Symposium and compelling general sessions, including Rebecca “Becky” Halstead, retired brigadier general of the U.S. Army; and Bernie Marcus, co-founder of The Home Depot and founder of Job Creators Network, it’s clear why Outlook Leadership is the premier executive-level event. For more info, visit www.outlookleadership.com.

At CSP’s Leadership Events, our CARRE Foundation (Charitable Alliance of Restaurant and Retail Executives) plays a critical role in the attendee experience. CARRE Foundation’s purpose is to provide leadership through charitable giving while building stronger relationships and bonds within our conference community. Primary support will be to other non-profit organizations, including those that assist others suffering from disability, disease, illness and other hardships, as well as organizations that promote the development of programs that extol the virtues of leadership.

At this year’s Outlook Conference, CARRE will focus on the Folds of Honor Foundation, which provides support to the spouses and children of soldiers killed or disabled in service to our country. Folds of Honor provides healing, hope and opportunity through scholarships and other assistance, all of which is possible because of people like you.

Now, before I start making analogies between the Gettysburg Address and your business’ mission statement, I’ll stop writing. We hope to see you in November.

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