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Entries in leadership (16)


Fast Leadership

A random walk through the leadership maze.

Search “leadership” on Amazon and you’ll find several thousand books on the subject. Even more than on “How to make a million in real estate”.

Many are all well argued. Some draw on great historical examples, others quote celebrity CEOs. A few are inspirational. Yet most are hard to put into practice. With leadership, as with real estate, there’s no silver bullet.

What if you just need to get on with it?

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Why you are not always a great leader

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Sometimes it’s someone else’s job.

Winston Churchill was a great wartime leader. If you took out the word “wartime”, would the statement still stand?

At school his achievements were patchy. As a politician he was deeply divisive. He made some massive policy errors. By returning Britain to the gold standard he helped trigger the Great Depression.

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Leadership? No Worries

Things to do about that fear stuff.

The deep end can be scary. When I was sixteen, I led an advance party to prepare the site for our annual cadet camp. Small beer, you would think. But not for me.

I was chosen because I’d performed well in other roles but this was different. When I assembled the team, I had no idea what I was doing. The main task was to create tent lines for about 300 cadets. I explained the job to the team. Then everything went quiet.

What got us started?

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Charisma: have you got any?

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Has the “celeb” thing plundered this old word?

Charisma derives from Charis, an associate of Aphrodite in Homer’s Odyssey. Charis was beautiful, but not a central character. Nothing about her seemed particularly special. She was like many of today’s “celebs”: she looked OK but didn’t do much. 

We could make similar observations about celebrity CEOs. They don’t make much difference either. Several studies show corporate performance to be anywhere from average to disastrous under so-called charismatic leaders.

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Is the leadership thing taking us in the right direction?

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Real change doesn’t start in the corner office.

Want to disempower someone? Just tell them exactly what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. Don’t tell them why it needs to be done. Avoid any reference to the importance of their input, and never ask if they have any ideas on how it might be done differently.

Command and control had a good run through the industrial revolution. It didn’t start running out of steam until the middle of last century. Even today it persists as a leadership option, often clothed in jargon about complexity and the need for simplicity. Got a problem? Don’t worry; we’ll sort it out with a new policy.

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