"The Wizard of Oz" - America's Greatest Book on Leadership

I had the opportunity this past weekend to attend a large leadership conference in Atlanta, Georgia where several of our team members were nominated for awards. I was humbled and honored to receive the award for largest organizational growth in a group of over 3000 members.

In listening to the speakers and engaging some of the strongest leaders in the organization, I was reminded of one of my favorite stories in American Literature.

A few years ago, my friend and mentor, Gary Polson, told me that I need to read the book "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," by L. Frank Baum. I informed Gary that I was quite familiar with the story and had seen the movie dozens of times (perhaps a few of which involved the music of Pink Floyd -- perhaps). He told me to read the damn book. I might just learn something.

We are all familiar with the story - Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow, Lion, Toto, Witches, and the Great and Powerful Oz. What we missed was in the details - Oz is one of the greatest examples of empowerment-based leadership in American History. As the story progresses, we find that Oz has no true powers at all. He is a weak man whose true gift is helping others discover that their destiny and power lie within themselves. The Tin Man, a character who believed he had no heart, was careful throughout the story not to so much as step on an ant for fear of causing harm. The Lion, a character who believed he lacked courage, saved the entire group. The Scarecrow, who thought himself to be brainless, derived solutions to all of the team's problems. And Dorothy, who felt she was just a scared little girl longing to go home, led the team with resolve based on her WIG (wildly important goal) of getting back to Kansas.

It is not the leader's job to motivate, instill, or inspire.  It is the leader's job to help her team find their own motivation, discover their strengths, and realize their potential.

I am including a link to a fantastic BLOG entry on the other great leadership lessons from "Oz." Please take a few minutes to read and respond!