Leadership “Truths” . . .

Professors James Kouzes and Barry Posner have written a little gem of a book recently titled The Truth about Leadership. It’s filled with wisdom and down to earth realities taken from their years of research on leadership.  It’s not Hollywood’s version of leadership, or the Gordon Gecko version of leadership, but the down home, no BS, from the heart, practical version of leadership.  It’s worth a read, especially for young MBAs and Entrepreneurs with ambition to accomplish something meaningful with their business careers.

Over a period of 30+ years of interacting with senior executive teams to improve strategy execution and help build high performance cultures, I’ve looked for, and found, some simple truths about leadership and organizational life at the top that ring true for me.

Here are a few of my favourite:

  • It’s more effective to celebrate little wins along the way than to wait for the final score.
  • Organizations are shadows of their leaders, that’s the good news and the bad news.
  • The work of the senior team is to eliminate obstacles so the organization can deliver on its strategic objectives.
  • No one of us is as smart as all of us.
  • There is no strategy without execution and there is no execution without leadership.
  • Less than 50% of the senior executive team has read the entire business strategy (most just read the overall goals and their functional section).
  • Most leadership teams are compensated to deliver functional goals, not to deliver on the corporate strategy.  And we wonder why it’s not a team at the top.
  • Leaders have two ears and one mouth and should use them in that proportion.
  • Multidisciplinary teams solve problems faster and more elegantly than a handful of subject matter experts.
  • Less than half the senior team can recite the company values accurately.
  • Business skills might get you there, but people skills will keep you there.
  • Most leaders aren’t.
  • Most leaders attend too many meeting and don’t make time for quality thinking.
  • Good leaders are always open to new ways to improve the company; it’s a part of their DNA.
  • Good leaders say NO without killing the spirit behind the idea.

Send me some of your “truths” about leadership and I’ll add them to my blog.

Tight Lines . . .

About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. Between 1974 and 1978 John was Vice President for Education and a senior workshop leader with PSI World, Inc. a public educational organization. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress currently resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at john@johnrchildress.com or john.childress@theprincipiagroup.com
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