Yesterday I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting with Dr. Peter Koestenbaum, my longtime mentor. Dr. Koestenbaum is the originator of the Leadership Diamond — a comprehensive leadership awareness program that serves as a foundation of well-established principles, practices and philosophies for executives, leaders and business people around the globe.
To give you an exclusive and exciting glimpse into the mind of this brilliant leadership pundit, I’d like to share some highlights from a series of email exchanges we had following our meeting.
“How to step up from mediocrity to greatness, from short-term myopia to long-term solutions is the ultimate challenge — it requires thoughtfulness, patience and a clear examination of the entire context that our decisions and actions rest in. The key is not to lose one’s nerve. That would be fatal.”
On Driving Strategy…
“We must always learn, always be fresh and alert, be willing to correct course, never stop revisiting — because strategy is not a thing that gets done and is finished, but a process that requires precise and wide-ranging continuous course corrections. We do not stop thinking of a strategy and then guessing that it will move forward on its own accord. It’s like a driver starting to drive a car and then abandoning it.”
“The response to look for here is not a debate with a winner and a loser, but rather questioning how we can clarify, simplify and elaborate in greater detail the message. And we do this together as a leadership team committed to judgment and maturity, rather than earlier, adolescent, states of action and reaction.”
“The result of this new conversation is not to get a winner, but greater dialog and mutual clarity and transparency. Out of that process new system configurations can emerge; a central component is ‘widening the circle of involvement,’ which means expansion of accountability. We end not with a winner and a loser, but with two winners, becoming one winner, that is, a partnership and a community.”
Truth about values can never be ignored.
My exchange with Dr. Koestenbaum got the gears in my head spinning. The truth about paying attention to the values he lays out apply whether you’re referring to companies and organizations or the United States and the world. At every level, we continue to face critical defining challenges, decisions and actions that can make history or make us history. These are the times that define mature and ultimately successful leadership decisions — whether it’s related to the government or the board of directors. They are values that applied to Steve Jobs just as much as they do Winston Churchill…and every other great leader that preceded or followed them.
It’s not about making unilateral decisions. It’s about widening responsibility and accountability. It’s about eliminating discomfort of extended leadership called upon to participate in the conversation. It’s about weighing in on the decisions and actions we personally make and professionally take.
Thank you, once again, Dr. Koestenbaum for inspiring me and so many other business professionals. Lead on, Dr., lead on.