"Save Me the Plums," New York Times bestseller, portrays a fantastic woman who uses  real-life examples of what leadership could be if we lead with commitment and passion. Ruth  Reichl reflects on her development into an outstanding leader while sharing her leadership  memoir. There are at least four different leadership styles, but only two types of leaders: those  who lead with compliance and those who lead with commitment. Compliance leaders are who the public has been calling a boss, using their authority and title to direct teams into doing and  producing. Unfortunately, this style of leadership causes many issues, low team morale, high  turnover rate, and cost, and simply a totalitarian and toxic culture. In her book, Ruth describes  how leading with commitment is more productive and rewarding.

Committed leadership is not a set of processes someone can follow to succeed. Instead,  it combines knowledge, intuition, passion, and humanity. Many articles we read today focus on  the ideal traits’ leaders should exhibit. They need to be strategic thinkers and visionaries, know  the industry, influence their team, and be a good communicator. However, not many 

educational materials describe how to combine these ideal traits while leading with  commitment, passion, and humanity, linking the art and science of influence.

"Management is about persuading people to do things they do not want to do, while Leadership  is about inspiring people to do things, they never thought they could."  -Steve Jobs

What does it mean to lead with commitment? In her book, Ruth's dedication to her  team was to transpose the Gourmet Magazine, but she knew she could not do this alone. It was  a team effort. Although Ruth was hired as an Editor in Chief for Gourmet Magazine, she was not  a seasoned leader who had led such transformations multiple times. However, she was a  passionate editor, obsessed with good food, a good story, and a pretty magazine. In Corporate  America, leaders are often hired only if they demonstrate years of experience in a role and  industry, but is it healthy for the organization? How often these leaders are leading with  commitment and passion? 

Leaders who want to lead and demonstrate their commitment to the team should start  by getting to know their team and understanding their strengths and weaknesses.  Nevertheless, it is unlike team members' strengths outlined in a database. Successful leaders  like Ruth get to know their team members by inquiring about their lives outside of work,  actively listening to what motivates them, and simply understanding the WHY and WHAT.  Active listening becomes a key as it means pausing their assumptions and needing to lead every conversation, and letting others take over. Getting to know the team, analyzing strengths  and weaknesses, enables leaders to influence by maximizing individual strengths vs. pounding  on their shortcomings. This promotes an environment of personal empowerment and reward. 

Ruth was a diverse leader, divers in thought and creativity. Exercising a diverse talent  selection to transform the magazine, which she combined with a successful structure to  optimize team’s productivity. So how do we develop the optimal structure in a committed  leadership style? This part incorporates the leader's knowledge and prescribed traits with  science. Using Ivan Steiner's formula to measure team’s productivity is a scientific process that  merges potential productivity with synergy while identifying and eliminating process loss. This  simple equation generates the actual productivity of the team. Leaders who can effectively do  this while creating their teams develop a clear path for success. However, this is easier said  than done. Let us break this apart.

Potential productivity is also known as stage setting. From futuristic strategy with clear  goals and objectives, and diverse talent with soft and technical skills, to software and hardware  selection, a complete structure will make the team operate at its fullest potential. Some of the  most complex problems require a team of teams. The hierarchically arranged goals exhibit an  overarching strategy while each team is pursuing distinct team goals and objectives. To  successfully generate a team of teams, committed leaders can communicate and connect  different work efforts and how they are attached, creating a sense of belonging in the  multiteam system. They can also produce communication channels where teams share  information between teams understanding interests and priorities. While potential productivity  is process orientated, establishing structure and procedures to follow is where leaders who  combine knowledge, commitment, and passion excel. 

"Active listening becomes a key as it means pausing their assumptions and needing to lead"

Synergy is simply an environment where team members' creativity is encouraged and  leveraged to produce collective intelligence. "Creativity involves many people from different  disciples working effectively together to solve a great many problems" (Catmull, 2008). This  quote is powerful and brings out the notion that it is not a responsibility or strength of one  person, a leader, but a collective effort of the entire team. Catmull (2008) further combines the  importance of having a team with diverse experiences, cultures, and strengths to develop a  large volume of ideas creating an environment where these ideas can be openly shared; risk taking is encouraged. Leaders of such environments need to be open-minded to combine the  most creative ideas into one cohesive outcome, promoting diversity of thought. True leaders, like Ruth Reichl, are not afraid to lead by example, inspire new ideas, and ask for forgiveness vs.  permission. For example, after 9/11, Ruth came up with an idea in using the amazing kitchen of  the Gourmet Magazine to cook for the rescue workers in New York City. She invited cooks from  the entire city, those who have not even worked for the magazine, to cook together and exhibit  the act of kindness and something Gourmet has never done before. Despite being criticized by  others, Ruth was willing to do something new and inspiring, asking for forgiveness vs.  permission. Such an act exemplified risk-taking and empowered all her team members to do  the same in times of crisis and when trying new and innovative solutions. How many times have  you, as a leader, promoted such an environment? Does your team feel safe doing something  new, or do all new solutions and ideas need to be discussed in a series of meetings, approved  by authoritarian leaders, and rolled out with a step-by-step manual? Committed leaders create a new and innovative meaning of synergy, increasing the team's productivity, maximizing  individual strengths, and promoting diversity of thought. 

Finally, robust process loss identification, utilizing quantitative and qualitative measures  of the team's operational efficiency to pinpoint gaps in the process leading to a loss in  productivity. For example, process loss could be caused by team conflict, ineffective and  unclear communication, inadequate project management, shifting goals and priorities, or  shortcomings in the subject matter within the leadership team. According to Dreu and  Weingard (2003), team conflict is how team members perceive incompatibility in their ideas,  strategies, work styles, or personalities. Team conflict is either task or relationship-based.  Leaders NEED to address task-related conflicts, but they should NOT address relationship  conflicts related to working styles, personality, and/or emotions. Interest, rights, and power are  behaviors used to manage conflicts among team members. These behaviors are most effective  with task-related conflicts, where team members differ in opinion, ideas, or goals. The most  effective solution is to reconcile interest by appealing to team members' goals, aspirations,  values, and principles, addressing fears and the "why" behind team members' positions.  Occasionally it is needed to determine who is right by referencing independent standards, laws,  contracting policies, or procedures. Grabbing power to resolve team conflicts is not practical or  productive; coercing others to do something they otherwise would not do is not solving  anything. It is only making conflict more complicated. Committed leaders maximize interest in  solving team-related conflicts, using rights when necessary, and seldom grabbing power.  Process loss also due to ineffective communication, inadequate project management, and  shifting goals and priorities, should primarily be addressed in the stage setting phase and  evaluated frequently. Communication can be both spoken and unspoken. Leaders communicate  stories with every email, gesture, comment, and presentation; whether they realize it or not,  these stories are what team members hear and observe.

"Your actions speak so loudly I cannot hear what you are saying" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Innovative technology allows for quantitative measurement of team-related productive  metrics, pointing out inadequate project management when used and organized correctly.  Maximizing strengths and creating psychological safety for the team to speak up promotes  effective project management and eliminates any related issues. However, it is only possible  when synergy among team members is high. Shifting goals and priorities also lead to  productivity loss if not communicated effectively, as the team members cannot understand  how their work contributes to an overall strategy. Shortcomings in the subject matter of  teamwork within leadership is another component of productivity loss, creating confusion and  efficiencies. Like Ruth in "Save Me the Plums," committed leaders overcome their shortcomings  by empowering others to generate ideas and execute to deliver. When Ruth was approached  for the Editor in Chief position, she was told that she can "clean the house," but rather she  focused on her leadership team instead. She selected and promoted leaders with different  backgrounds and strengths to supplement her weaknesses and promoting a diversified  experience. But more importantly she empowered these leaders to execute and help her  transform Gourmet. 

When a team operates at its fullest potential, it achieves actual productivity but more  importantly it has an environment of belonging and creativity. However, this is only possible  when the stage is set correctly, synergy and psychological safety are enabled, and process loss  is eliminated. Leaders who combine their knowledge and ideal prescribed traits with  commitment and passion are those that are combing art and science of influence. Dear CEO do  you have committed or compliance leaders in your organization? Leaders – have you done  some self-assessment lately? Do you lead with commitment or with compliance? Is Your Team  Operating at Its Fullest Potential? What is your leadership memoir?

"Leaders are given subordinates, but they must earn followers."  - Michelle L. Buck