Taking Fear Out of Leadership

Jim Collins of “Built to Last”, “Good to Great”, “Great by Choice” fame was shaken to the core by his 21 university graduate students (who were researching how good companies can become great) when they challenged him and then proved him wrong about Leadership. Collins had instructed them not to consider Leadership as a factor in making good companies great.

The student graduate researchers told their professor that he was not only wrong about Leadership but that it was the most significant factor in any and every business organization. Moreover it wasn’t just any old leader who impacted an organization – it was a very special leader, a “Level Five Leader” who was needed to significantly lead an organization to stardom.

In my opinion, leadership is the most written about subject in business literature, but it is the least understood. Even professors in graduate schools of business (as in Collins’ case) get it wrong. It has been claimed that something like 2000 books are published each year on the subject. I have yet to find two authors who have the same understanding and say the same things.

No wonder then that the understanding of Leadership is so shallow. Management, the other side of the same coin, is somewhat better understood but people are often elevated into management positions without any training for their new role. If few organizations rarely educate and expose their newly appointed “managers” to what they must be and do, then it is sad and shameful, but we must anticipate that those same organizations don’t spend much time, if any, helping their executives to lead.

And so the hardworking, dedicated employee can become the victim of the “Peter Principle” (elevated to a level of incompetence) when made a manager. They become victims, not managers and leaders and therefore flounder and fail.

The “angst” most newly appointed managers feel when faced with the task of delivery in business usually doesn’t lessen. Working in our VUCA world (Vulnerable, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) the incapacity to deliver increases. Managers, leaders, executives are tasked not only to manage, but to lead and deliver. The demands are immediate and hugely tough. So the angst grows and the way forward into the future becomes dark, dismal and frightening.

Attached is The White Paper on “Taking Fear Out of Leadership”. Alison Reid, the author is an Oxford graduate and a leadership expert who has worked in major organizations such as Procter & Gamble and PriceWaterhouseCoopers. She has over 20 years international experience and has specialized in leadership development.

I commend her White Paper to you. Please read it with care and profit from its findings.

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