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Ken Adelman
Political advisor

Ken Adelman

A Reagan-era Ambassador and Arms Control Director, Ken Adelman is co-founder and vice-president of Movers and Shakespeares, which offers executive training and leadership development.

Connecting everyone to the mission

Q: One of the key findings the 2010 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government survey is that worker satisfaction is more profoundly affected by perceptions of top management than by their immediate supervisor. What lessons can top leaders in the public and private sector glean from this?

The two key elements of all leadership are simply: 1) to connect everyone to the mission, and 2) to each other. Other aspects of leadership may be critical, but not as indispensable as these two. Connecting everyone to the mission takes identifying that mission. Only top leaders can do that. Only they can set the whole organization's direction, and give it meaning.

The larger, the more important the mission, the more satisfaction people have in pursuing it. As Shakespeare says,
'O, the blood more stirs
To rouse a lion than
To start a hare. (Henry IV, I)

People get more satisfaction from coping with a big challenge, like rousing a lion, than going after piddly tasks, like chasing a rabbit. It's the responsibility of the top brass to explain how and why their whole organization is pursuing a big, important mission. Supervisors can repeat their message, and specify their unit's role in that mission.

Both elements, connecting folks to the mission, and to each other. come together magnificently when Shakespeare's Henry V inspires the "we few, we happy few, we band of brothers" at the Battle of Agincourt on October 25, 1415.

His St. Crispin Day's Speech is the greatest motivational speech ever made. That's why Winston Churchill adapted its approach and beauty to his powerful speeches during the British Empire's darkest days of 1940.

Rather than you reading me explain the power of this approach, you should instead see, hear, and feel it. This is easily done by watching the exceptional Shakespearean actor Ed Gero recite the "St. Crispin's Day Speech here.

Once you experience it, you'll not forget what leadership is all about.

By Ken Adelman

 |  August 31, 2010; 8:35 AM ET
Category:  A leader's team , Accomplishing Goals , Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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