Three Inspiring Stories on New Leadership

What we can learn from the sugar consumption of Gandhi, from Netflix’s surprising resemblance to a nuclear submarine, and from the frightening team dynamics of super chickens about new leadership.

Be the change that you wish to see in the world.

Mahat­ma Gandhi

Gandhi and the Sugar

Lead­er­ship always begins with one’s own exam­ple and hinges on authen­tic­i­ty. An inspir­ing sto­ry is told about Mahat­ma Gand­hi. A woman came from far away with her son to see Gand­hi. She was wor­ried because her son ate too much sug­ar and, although it made him ill, he could­n’t stop. So she asked Gand­hi to tell her son to stop eat­ing sug­ar. Gand­hi did not respond to this request until two weeks lat­er, because he him­self had to give up sug­ar in order to be able to give this advice authentically.

Netflix and the Nuclear Submarine

What does Net­flix have in com­mon with a nuclear sub­ma­rine? Although at first glance they couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent, their excep­tion­al lead­er­ship cul­ture is very sim­i­lar. Reed Hast­ings, CEO of Net­flix, prides him­self on mak­ing as few deci­sions as pos­si­ble and prefer­ably none at all for an entire quar­ter. And Cap­tain David Mar­quet decid­ed to stop giv­ing orders on the nuclear sub­ma­rine USS San­ta Fe. Both rely on con­text instead of con­trol and are very suc­cess­ful with it.

Google and the Super Chickens

William Muir from Pur­due Uni­ver­si­ty inves­ti­gat­ed the pro­duc­tiv­i­ty of chick­ens. For one group, he select­ed only the “high per­form­ers” and only the best of these Super Chick­ens were allowed to breed. On the oth­er hand, there was a group of aver­age chick­ens that were not fur­ther select­ed or influ­enced. After six gen­er­a­tions the chick­ens in this aver­age group were well fed, ful­ly feath­ered and their pro­duc­tiv­i­ty had increased sig­nif­i­cant­ly. Con­trary to naive expec­ta­tions, this was slight­ly dif­fer­ent in the Super Chick­en group: all but three were dead — picked to death by the others.

Agile by nature | Rebel without a pause | Working out loud | Author of

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