What is Leadership?

I am fortunate to regularly work with Boards of Directors & Senior Management teams with very big brains, matched only by the size of either their ambitions. At a recent pre-conference session, there were about 6 such people in the room debating a whole range of issues around the future for their industry as well as their business. Although conducted respectfully, it became clear who the Leader of the pack was by the natural evolution of ideas that were driven to a final conclusion which everyone signed up to enthusiastically.

It got me wondering exactly how Leadership should be defined and I discovered that Harry Truman, the 33rd President of the United States was propelled into the position after the sudden death of Theodore Roosevelt in 1945. He had been in the job of Vice President for just 82 days and in his first month in office he dropped the atomic bomb on Japan, ending World War II. It seems prophetic then that he is credited as saying;

“Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skilful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.”

— Harry Truman

While most of us will never face such huge decisions in our lives, there will be times when we are required to drive our areas of business with courage, skilfulness and vision and that is what will separate the ‘If I ruled the world/company/division we’d…….?’ Just as Truman was faced with a sudden and unexpected challenge, so too will most of us at some point or other in our lives so even if you don’t know what that issue might be now, expect the unexpected. Challenge yourself by being a leader every day and drive your business forward. Just don’t forget to take people with you because without them, who or what is it you are leading?

Here are the top 5 areas to focus on if you want to be considered a world class Leader today;

Tomorrow’s leaders need different skills

The workplace is changing.  Instead of top down organisations designed around command and control efficiency, tomorrow’s workplace heralds flexible, multi-disciplinary problem-solving teams, where project outcomes are not always certain at the outset.  How can leaders harness group creativity without stifling it, while still aligning the team towards a profitable outcome? In module 1, this is the question that we will address

CBT and e-learning can harm people skills

e-learning is all the rage.  Bottling the implicit knowledge of experts to dispense into self-paced doses is attractive.  But to really embed new skills and change behaviour takes practice. Technical skills can be perfected online, but for soft interpersonal skills there is no substitute for real people.  How do you provide a “safe” environment that encourages experimentation and tolerates mistakes away from subordinates? This is

D&I is good for business

For many organisations Diversity and Inclusiveness are box ticking and social responsibility issues.  Enlightened organisations use D&I to drive competitive advantage.  In module 3 we show real case studies that prove the business case for diversity.

Problem-solving is all about context

It is a sad statistic that 20 years on still only one third of change projects deliver the desired outcomes.  One of the key reasons for this is context. Change only happens when leaders and subordinates are working in the same context.  So how do we teach tomorrow’s leaders to engage people from very different contexts for shared problem-solving?  Module 4 has the techniques.

Socially Responsible leadership is vital

There is a pervasive myth that Corporate Social Responsibility is a duty to the public in order to be perceived as ethical.  The reality is that done right, social responsibility helps find new opportunities, reduces risk and become a magnet to attract top new talent.  Our final module looks at some examples.


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