Closing Plenary: The "How" of Being an Influential Leader

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Inspirational Leadership in the Era of Behavior

Leading with formal authority—that is, having power over people—must give way to leading with moral authority, according to closing plenary speaker Dov Seidman. Seidman is the founder and CEO of LRN and author of How: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything and a leading advisor to corporations seeking to collaborate around values-based missions.

Revolutions are happening all over, Seidman said, so the time is ripe for a paradigm shift. These revolutions are about ideas, rethinking, and freedom. “We’re creating unprecedented freedom from the way things were,” he said, “but it’s not just about freedom from. It’s also about freedom to—and freedom to creates moral values.”
He cited Arab Spring as one example of people worldwide demanding a change in the way leaders exert authority as well as the right to freedom to. But there are many other examples; in fact, known protests around the world have risen from 6,072 in 1995 to more than 300,000 so far in 2013.

Social media has played a big part in these revolutions, according to Seidman. Through the power of social media, the few and the seemingly powerless can effect change from corporations and governments alike.

Given that climate, he said, the corporate world must rethink the way it currently operates. It must decide what behaviors it wants—whether from its customers or its employees—and scale up the values that encourage those behaviors. We tend to scale situational values such as profits and resources, Seidman said, but we need to scale sustainable values such as loyalty and doing the right things for the right reasons. “Purpose is what elevates people,” he said.

According to Seidman, coercion and motivation only shift behavior, but inspiration elevates it. Therefore corporations must work on inspiring employees, setting them on a path to self-governance. This path begins with trust—trust that must be freely given away.