Lead with We: A book review by Bob Morris

Lead with We: The Business Revolution That Will Save Our Future
Simon Mainwaring
Matt Holt (November 2021)

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” African proverb

The global business world is more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous now than it was at any prior time I can remember. Obviously, previous leadership mindsets that were required during each of several industrial revolutions, for example, are of little (if any) value when leaders must contend with the challenges of disruptive technologies that include artificial intelligence (AI); sensors and the Internet of Things (IOT); autonomous machines — (robots, cobots, drones, and self-driving vehicles); distributed leaders and blockchains; virtual, augmented, and mixed reality; and connecting everything and everyone (5G networks and satellite constellations). Collaboration is more important now than ever before; collaboration with machines is even more important now, if not as yet imperative.

Mainwaring: “Now WE must All act within our within our ranges of impact — and work to expand them — before it’s too late. The great news is that it can be a mammoth opportunity to redefine growth so that it encompasses profit, purpose, AND the overall well-being of the Earth and all its inhabitants.”

The material in this book is carefully organized and developed within three Parts. First, Mazinwaring reviews the rise of “We First” capitalism, explains urgency in terms of a confluence of crises, and introduces a new paradigm and its revolutionary new narrative. Next, he examines the purpose-driven leadership mindset on which “slingshot business growth” depends, explores the nature and extent of a culture needed to complete a transformation of the given business, explains the necessity of inspiring customers to scale growth and impact, and suggests how the reinvention of the given business throughout and beyond its enterprise. In the third and final part (Chapter Eight), Mainwaring explains how to achieve transcendence by committing to each other and the Planet. Pay special attention to the diagram on Page 276.) I commend him on his skillful use of read-friendly devices, notably “Key Takeaways” and “Action Items” sections at the conclusion of each of Chapters One through Seven.

The former will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key points later; the latter suggest how the reader can apply — with high impact — the key recommendations included in the given chapter’s material. I presume to add my own suggestion: have a lined notebook near at hand while reading the book. (My personal preference is the Mead “marble” version.) Record in it your own observations, page references, and questions as well as notes that you implement action items of highest priority.

I view this book both as a blueprint for collectivized purpose in action, and, as an operations manual during the implementation of initiatives. These are the key components:

o ME: Every individual adopts a “Lead with Me” mindset and behavior
o LEADERS: Define company purpose and goals
o COMPANY: Activates purpose and aligns internal stakeholders
o COMMUNITY: Mobilizes brand communities and builds movements
o SOCIETY: Drives and nourishes cultural conversations and conditions that improve society
o TRANSCENDENCE: Fosters a regenerative and abundant future

Mainwaring’s strategy involves completing a process that begins with development of an individual’s personal growth and professional development based on purpose-driven values. What he affirms reflects the influence of various thought leaders that include Robert K. Greenleaf who  is generally credited with formulating the concept of what he characterizes in a seminal essay (in 1970) as “servant leadership.” Here is a brief excerpt:

“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.

“The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?”

The aforementioned process continues as an individual helps others to achieve their own personal growth and professional development with their commitment to the same purpose-driven values. In essence:  Become a better person, help others to become a better a person, and together make the organization (i.e. company) community, society, and eventually the planet to become a better place.

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