Is your company positioned to be a leader as the recovery continues? Is your company positioned to be a "leader" in its product offerings? Do you have the right leadership within your company to be successful?

Two companies recently demonstrated two very different styles of leading.

The first company has been in business for a very long time. It prides itself on the fact everyone knows its name. The second company has been in business for about 10 years, but is quickly making a name for itself. Both companies recently held meetings-the first company with its shareholders, the second company with its customers. The first company's meeting came as a result of corporate financial losses, and the discussion was about markets in which they were reducing their efforts. The second company's meeting came from a position of phenomenal sales growth. The first meeting was a top-down meeting where the CEO told shareholders what they would bring to the customer. In the second meeting, the CEO listened to his customers' current and future needs. The first meeting was somber. The second meeting was enthusiastic. The first meeting was full of power. The second was full of leadership.

In his book, "The Servant, A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership," James C. Hunter talks about what makes successful leadership. At the core of his message is the concept of agapé, self-sacrificing love of others without regard for what one might receive in return. Now before you think I've gone soft and am about to break into a chorus of "kum ba yah," agapé love is not a feeling. It is not something captured in the sentiments of a Hallmark card. Agapé is a conscious decision to hold others in high regard. It is an act of will and intellect, not of the fickleness of fleeting emotions.

Agapé is patient, kind, demonstrates humility, respectfulness, selflessness, forgiveness, honesty and commitment. In true agapé, Hunter says, a person leads from authority, not power, and others, including customers, want to follow that person. The leader driven by agapé becomes a servant, not a slave, to others, to his employees and his customers. He listens and brings them what they need-not what they want-to be successful.

Lest you think that agapé is pabulum and not useful in the "real world," Nestlé USA, ITT Automotive, Guardian Glass Co. and Cambridge Industries are some of the companies putting Hunter's book, and the principles of agapé love, into successful practice. These companies are leaders in their industries, in part, because of the agapé leadership model. Go and buy Hunter's book. It fully explains successful leadership and from where it comes.

At a meeting of the second company, I asked one of the customer-attendees why he was so excited at being there. Was business going well for him? Was he one of the company's "big" customers? He answered "no" to both questions. His company was rather small. Business was okay. "I matter to this company." Others echoed that sentiment. Company Two will be successful because it serves. Company One hasn't figured it out yet.

Which company will you be? Let me know at [email protected].