Sunday, November 11, 2007

What Leaders Really Do

I have been tired this week. Likely marathon recovery and travel. I ran 10K today to get back into some working out after taking most of the week off work outs. It took me most of the weekend to catch up as seems to be the pattern I have fallen into. And another busy week coming up.

One HBR article I am inspired by is What Leaders Really Do by John P. Kotter. Summarizing the article:

"They don't make plans; they don't even organize people. What leaders really do is prepare organizations for change and help them cope as they struggle through it.

Leadership is different from management, but not for the reasons most people think. Leadership isn't mystical and mysterious. It has nothing to do with having "charisma" or other exotic personality traits. It is not the province of a chosen few. Nor is leadership necessarily better than management or a replacement for it.

Rather, leadership and management are two distinctive and complementary systems of action. Each has its own function and characteristic activities. Both are necessary for success in an increasingly complex and volatile business environment.

Most corporations today are over-managed and underled. They need to develop their capacity to exercise leadership. Successful corporations don't wait for leaders to come along. They actively seek out people with leadership potential and expose them to career experiences designed to develop that potential. Indeed, with careful selection, nurturing and encouragement, dozens of people can play important leadership roles in a business organization."

Interesting and from what I can see - true. My addition to this comment might be that leaders tend to also be managers so double duty is often in order. And what I have seen in some larger organizations is that management is more highly valued so there is a push to make leaders into better managers often to the detrement of the organization since it is the leadership that is more desperately needed.


At 8:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim- This post also ties in well with the opening comment on your Audio CD- "Leaders do the right things" while "managers do things right"- Some of the things I've seen in business lately suggest to me that there aren't enough leaders!! - Lee Iacocca released a book this year - Where have all the leaders gone - A very passionate perspective on leadership!

At 7:30 AM, Blogger Don Frederiksen said...


Thanks for introducing me to the Kotter HBR article. I wrote about the insights on Lead Quietly blog

I found your post and the article particularly insightful coming from an organization that I feel is overmanaged and underled. In this situation, it takes strong leadership to make sure that the organization is working on the right stuff.


At 6:18 AM, Anonymous Abhishek Kumar Sadhu said...

Yes, Most corporations today are over-managed and underled. Though manageement and leaddership are complementary to each other, It is the leadership which is more important than management..


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