I was talking to a group of close business friends last week about the topic of manipulation in leadership. We discussed at length whether each of us had used manipulation in our leadership and our different spheres of influence.
Manipulation - the control of someone or something in order to get an advantage, often unfairly or dishonestly.
On the basis of the above definition we were hesitant to admit wrong doing. However, when we looked at an expanded description of the term we confessed that we all have been guilty at some time in our lives.
Expanded definition of Manipulation - to make someone think and behave exactly as you want them to, by skilfully deceiving or influencing them.
As the saying goes, confession is good for the soul, so rather than dwell on the negatives we then chatted about the purest form of leadership - inspiration. When we look back our lives and the experiences we've all had with the various leaders we come across on life's journey, it's interesting the things we remember. In short, we remember the good and the bad but little in between.
For sure we can recall the times when we felt we were treated unfairly, but it's the occasions when we were inspired that we remember the most. We easily remember the times when someone believed in us and willed us on, even when others didn't.
If we stop and take time to think, I'm quite sure each of us could all talk about memories that have shaped us for good.
Our challenge as leaders is to set example that others desire to follow. It will undoubtedly be inspirational leadership that will create that desire.
Inspirational leadership in my view is, and always will be the purest form of leadership. It remains vitally important that we instil belief in others coming along behind and provide the next generation with the best leadership example possible.