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Wednesday, October 7, 2015
What it takes to be a great leader - TED
What makes a great leader today?Many of us carry this imageof this all-knowing superherowho stands and commandsand protects his followers.But that's kind of an image from another time,and what's also outdatedare the leadership development programsthat are based on success modelsfor a world that was, not a world that isor that is coming.
0:45We conducted a study of 4,000 companies,and we asked them, let's see the effectivenessof your leadership development programs.Fifty-eight percent of the companiescited significant talent gapsfor critical leadership roles.That means that despite corporate training programs,off-sites, assessments, coaching, all of these things,more than half the companieshad failed to grow enough great leaders.You may be asking yourself,is my company helping me to prepareto be a great 21st-century leader?The odds are, probably not.
1:28Now, I've spent 25 years of my professional lifeobserving what makes great leaders.I've worked inside Fortune 500 companies,I've advised over 200 CEOs,and I've cultivated more leadership pipelinesthan you can imagine.But a few years ago, I noticed a disturbing trendin leadership preparation.I noticed that, despite all the efforts,there were familiar stories that kept resurfacingabout individuals.One story was about Chris,a high-potential, superstar leaderwho moves to a new unit and fails,destroying unrecoverable value.And then there were stories like Sidney, the CEO,who was so frustratedbecause her company is citedas a best company for leaders,but only one of the top 50 leaders is equippedto lead their crucial initiatives.And then there were storieslike the senior leadership teamof a once-thriving businessthat's surprised by a market shift,finds itself having to force the companyto reduce its size in halfor go out of business.
2:48Now, these recurring storiescause me to ask two questions.Why are the leadership gaps wideningwhen there's so much more investmentin leadership development?And what are the great leaders doingdistinctly different to thrive and grow?One of the things that I did,I was so consumed by these questionsand also frustrated by those stories,that I left my jobso that I could study this full time,and I took a year to travelto different parts of the worldto learn about effective and ineffectiveleadership practices in companies,countries and nonprofit organizations.And so I did things like travel to South Africa,where I had an opportunity to understandhow Nelson Mandela was ahead of his timein anticipating and navigatinghis political, social and economic context.I also met a number of nonprofit leaderswho, despite very limited financial resources,were making a huge impact in the world,often bringing together seeming adversaries.And I spent countless hours in presidential librariestrying to understand how the environmenthad shaped the leaders,the moves that they made,and then the impact of those movesbeyond their tenure.And then, when I returned to work full time,in this role, I joined with wonderful colleagueswho were also interested in these questions.
4:26Now, from all this, I distilledthe characteristics of leaders who are thrivingand what they do differently,and then I also distilledthe preparation practices that enable peopleto grow to their potential.I want to share some of those with you now.
4:44("What makes a great leader in the 21st century?")
4:46In a 21st-century world, which is more global,digitally enabled and transparent,with faster speeds of information flow and innovation,and where nothing big gets donewithout some kind of a complex matrix,relying on traditional development practiceswill stunt your growth as a leader.In fact, traditional assessmentslike narrow 360 surveys or outdated performance criteriawill give you false positives,lulling you into thinking that you are more preparedthan you really are.Leadership in the 21st century is definedand evidenced by three questions.
5:29Where are you lookingto anticipate the next changeto your business model or your life?The answer to this question is on your calendar.Who are you spending time with? On what topics?Where are you traveling? What are you reading?And then how are you distilling thisinto understanding potential discontinuities,and then making a decision to do somethingright now so that you're prepared and ready?There's a leadership team that does a practicewhere they bring together each membercollecting, here are trends that impact me,here are trends that impact another team member,and they share these,and then make decisions, to course-correct a strategyor to anticipate a new move.Great leaders are not head-down.They see around corners,shaping their future, not just reacting to it.
6:28The second question is,what is the diversity measureof your personal and professional stakeholder network?You know, we hear often about good ol' boy networksand they're certainly alive and well in many institutions.But to some extent, we all have a networkof people that we're comfortable with.So this question is about your capacityto develop relationships with peoplethat are very different than you.And those differences can be biological,physical, functional, political, cultural, socioeconomic.And yet, despite all these differences,they connect with youand they trust you enoughto cooperate with youin achieving a shared goal.Great leaders understandthat having a more diverse networkis a source of pattern identificationat greater levels and also of solutions,because you have people that are thinkingdifferently than you are.
7:29Third question: are you courageous enoughto abandon a practice that has made you successful in the past?There's an expression: Go along to get along.But if you follow this advice,chances are as a leader,you're going to keep doing what's familiar and comfortable.Great leaders dare to be different.They don't just talk about risk-taking,they actually do it.And one of the leaders shared with me the fact thatthe most impactful development comeswhen you are able to build the emotional staminato withstand people telling you that your new ideais naïve or reckless or just plain stupid.Now interestingly, the people who will join youare not your usual suspects in your network.They're often people that think differentlyand therefore are willing to join youin taking a courageous leap.And it's a leap, not a step.More than traditional leadership programs,answering these three questionswill determine your effectivenessas a 21st-century leader.
8:45So what makes a great leader in the 21st century?I've met many, and they stand out.They are women and menwho are preparing themselvesnot for the comfortable predictability of yesterdaybut also for the realities of todayand all of those unknown possibilities of tomorrow. More