To be a welcoming leader


This week I had a conversation with Deanna Vogt on leadership. One of her questions was about the importance welcoming and hostmanship. Here's what I said.

“It's about relationships … they are the centerpiece of society, of life, the organizing principle of everything. … why connection is important …

Leaders create an environment of welcoming; create an environment to give, to contribute, to take initiative, to participate

welcoming lowers the barriers for leadership so more people can come in and practice leadership…

leadership starts with the individual’s initiative; not an abstract role defined by an organizational structure; more who the person is and how they express themselves through the structure; ...

this approach to leading starts with the leader being willing to let go of the results; to say – ‘I’m creating this environment, we have this purpose, these values and I have a vision, but don’t know how we are going to make it, where it is going to go; I leave it to you and I welcome you to come in and create what it really needs to be.’ … this is where welcoming and hostmanship come from …”

An environment of welcome is an invitation for people to contribute their best. As a leader, this may be a very attractive idea because you want people to be happy and productive. What you may not understand is that problem is not you intention, but the system of your business.

Creating an environment of welcome is not an efficient approach to running a business. People are not efficient. People, when equipped, enabled, and empowered, are effective beyond imagining.

Here's the truth that we face. Simply trying to run an efficient organization is a race to be the number 1 bottom feeder in your industry.

You end up treating your products and services as low cost commodities, and your people as interchangeable disposable parts.

You may protest that you care for your people. And you may, but the system you put them in penalizes them for being people and not machines.

Creating a welcoming environment has little place in a business organized to be efficient.  People have ideas, have emotional needs and require time to process complex social situations. And yet, they are the chief asset that businesses have to succeed in the new economy.

Years ago, management writer Peter Drucker contrasted the aims of efficiency and effectiveness."Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness doing right things."

You have a choice.

Choose to be a bottom-feeder or to be a leader. You can't be both. 

Be a bottom-feeder, and you may survive. Be a leader and you have a chance to thrive while everyone else simply tries to make it.

To be a welcoming leader is to create an environment where people are free to create their best performance every day.

It is just one of the practices of gratitude that you can implement to transform the environment of your organization into a place where people want to connect.