The Leadership Mystique


The pleasant, cardiganed man sitting here is not a librarian enjoying a spare moment, but rather  Manfred Kets de Vries in a tv ad for INSEAD’s new magazine, World Business.  He’s an expert on “leadership” and came to give us a diversion from our regular classes: quite  engaging and had a lot to say.  Here’s a brief synopsis of the many things that were covered:

1) The leader has to be a ‘reflective practitioner’, a storyteller and more importantly a listener.  As the Oracle of Delphi said, know thyself, and a high EQ makes you a better leader.

2) Don’t ignore the irrational: all behaviour has a rationale, it just may be hard to find.  Remember that the Benzene ring came about because of a dream of a snake eating its tail.

3) A brief list of why leaders fail:

    -Inability to make decisions (a.k.a. wanting to be liked)

    -Tyrannizing subordinates

    -Micromanaging, unable to let go

    -Lack of succession planning (apparently 16% of CEOs want to leave in a pine box)

Also, be aware of narcissism (i.e., the Sun King or ‘I’m on the cover of Fortune magazine’ syndrome)

4) Spend time to get the right people

5) Practice group leadership.  This doesn’t mean co-CEOs, rather have groups sessions to develop leadership.  You’ll build better trust amongst teams and all learn more.

6) Have a healthy disrespect for your boss

7) Remember that people work for money but die for a cause

8) Advice: list to, care for and help employees.  Walk the talk.  Stretch both yourself and employees.  Be encouraging and give praise.  Keep people informed and always give constructive feedback.  None of this is rocket science, but apparently it’s ignored to no end.

Finally, a nice quote from Kierkegaard:

The tragedy of life is that we can only understand it backwards, but we have to live it forwards.

Monday, April 3, 2006

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