Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Patagonia's art of leadership

"This kind of independent thinking applies to our management philosophy as well. In fact, our employees are so independent, we've been told by psychologists, that they would be considered unemployable in a typical company. We don't want drones who will simply follow directions. We want the kind of employees who will question the wisdom of something they regard as a bad decision but, once they buy into something, will work like demons to produce something of the highest possible quality, whether a shirt, a catalog, a store display, or a computer program. How you get these highly individualistic people to align and work for a common cause is the art of management at Patagonia."

I've been in love with Patagonia for a long time, ever since about 1989. Not only do I love the products that they make, but the principles they embody as a company. I'm afraid to admit it, but I have a ton of their stuff. Three fleece jackets (one of them known as the yak fur), a sweatshirt, two rain jackets, a big duffel bag, a laptop bag, countless pairs of socks, long underwear, tshirts ... the list goes on. I love their stuff, because its really well made, their gear is well designed in terms of fit, functionality and purpose and they do what they believe in - their commitment to the environment shows up in how they run their company. The only negative point about their gear is that it is really expensive, but I got most of mine on discount when I worked for an outfitter.

The quote above is from a post that Influx had about Patagonia recently winning a design award. The post also talked about the corporate culture at the company and was a good reminder to me about leadership. Leaders don't create clones who just follow a plan. Leaders exude a purpose and a passion. The plan can come later.

I want to make clear that what focuses the speed of the church is not a plan but a purpose and a passion. This may sound strange, but you can focus the energy of a movement without knowing where you are going. You do this by knowing why you are going. ... Too many times as leaders we feel pressure to tell people things we don’t know. In other words, we make them up. Spiritual leadership is not the ability to define everything the future holds. It is the willingness to move forward when all you know is God. The apostolic leader finds his direction from the compass of the purpose of God, is fueled by the passions of God, and, while he’s moving to do what he knows, God clarifies and directs. - Erwin McManus, An Unstoppable Force

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