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Blog : The cult of the leader (though not as you know it)

Blog

The cult of the leader (though not as you know it)


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By guest blogger, Sarah O’Connell

When we think of a leader, we think of big personalities, big vision and big change. Or at least we used to…

The topic of leadership has been analysed and debated almost obsessively by popular business media. From Jim Collins’ classic Good to Great, where we are introduced to the counterintuitive ‘Level 5’ leader, with their paradoxical blend of humility and professional grit, to the much-awaited Steve Jobs biopic – we are fascinated with what makes a great leader, almost to the point where the leader becomes a mystical figure. Why?

Because in business - it’s what everything boils down to. Without strong leadership to shape organisational makeup, inspire and empower, it will be near-impossible to create a high-performance, talent-driven culture.

Though in modern organisations with ever-flatter people structures, it is not enough to have a superstar leader at the helm. Creating leaders at every level is crucial, and has been recognised by Deloitte  as one of the 12 critical issues facing businesses in 2015.

Of course, good leadership does not equal good management, and vice versa. The dangers of using the terms ‘manager’ and ‘leader’ interchangeably are discussed here – noting that few things are more costly than a manager in a leadership position.

When it comes down to the bottom line, leadership is all about people whereas management is all about things.

Equally this does not mean management cannot (or should not) exhibit strong leadership behaviours, being both an organisational lynchpin and a driving force behind positive change. Being a leader is about your disposition – rather than position.

It’s time to take the mysticism out of leadership and create cultures with clearly defined core leadership principles, where individuals are clear on the related behaviours and what is expected so that they may ‘own’ their work and are both enabled and empowered to deliver the strategy that will make your organisation great.

So in a flatter structure where leaders at all levels is the way to go, what are you doing to bring your leadership into the 21st Century? …

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