Turning Leadership upon its Head!

Leadership is a difficult concept to nail down. Exceptional leadership requires certain ingredients. It requires energy and an ability to see the future, but also to see what’s directly in front. Leaders understand that the present is what builds the future, and they do not sacrifice one for the attainment of the other. While leadership is widely touted throughout business, sports and life, very little is understood about the psychology of leaders, and more so their followers. Why are some people more comfortable following the lead, while others are always striving to be out front?

leadership (ˈliːdəʃɪp)



1. the position or function of a leader
2. the period during which a person occupies the position of leader: during her leadership very little was achieved.


a. the ability to lead
b. (as modifier): leadership qualities.
4. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) the leaders as a group of a party, union, etc: the union leadership is now veryreactionary.

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

Introvertedness does not fully explain this desire to be on one side of the fence or the other. It is more ingrained than that. Leadership seems to go much deeper than just desire. We all held inspired thoughts of leadership growing up as we see successful. In spite of this, we gradually fall in to slow and gradual decline of interest in become leaders. Is it possible that our view of leadership has been pre-programmed so deeply within our psyche that we believe it is the basis for all success?

We always look for great leadership whenever there is a good company or something occurs out of the ordinary, because it cannot occur without a leader in our wired (weird) brain. Perhaps conventional thinking makes us ponder and follow these instincts to look for a leader in every situation.

Leaders are not born, they’re made!

There are many stories of companies that brought in high profile leaders to save their f companies, only to see the decline accelerated under the new leadership. That’s because traditionally, leadership has been seen as a trait that someone brings to a company, as opposed to what they develop when they’re aligned with the company’s strategic goals. In the book “know how” Ram Charan talks about leaders who know what they’re doing, while others simply don’t! The leaders who know do not bring premonition to their role, they bring solutions. This is important because sometimes the difference between succeeding and failing is in execution. Most companies have a strategic plan which describes their longterm goals. Good leaders are like ecosystems, they have adapted to their surroundings and understand how to interact with it to produce the best possible outcome.

We need to accept that great companies don’t always emerge because of great leadership, but actually having the right product or service at the right time. Companies like apple, Microsoft, Google, Sony, Chrysler, General Electrics (GE) all suffer from this phenomena. Companies that soar when their products are in demand and then fade into non-existence a few years later usually have the same leadership at their helm. Attributing success to a leader or leadership team is our wired thinking trying to connect success with what we believe it ought to success. Therefore a great company must have great leadership and a bad one, bad leadership.

Genetics Gone Wild?

Is this genetics gone wild? Could the programming that makes us look for leadership from our parents (leaders of the household) spilled over to all aspects of our lives so that we must find a leader (or leaders) in all things. Whether real or perceived the notion of a leader affects everything from energy levels to optimism. We work better and feel better when we know there is a leader (and the converse is also true)…why?

Jim Collins in good to great alluded to the fact that he wanted to avoid attributing the success of the good to great companies to leadership, but he couldn’t. He said the data was overwhelmingly pointing to leadership as an important factor. He came with level 5 leaders as the driving force behind those companies. Is that true our perceived leadership…what exactly did these leaders do and what makes leadership so crucial to company success. By including leadership as one of the factors for good to to great companies, Jim has carried on the tradition of attributing success to leadership. Was Jim pushed to include leadership because of the psychological weight of leaving it out or was the data analysis skewed by the perception of his students’ wired thinking of a leadership figure behind all success?


When we’re born, we learn to experience leadership in a particular way, a father figure or a mother who provides for us. Then we have to transition that idea of leadership as we get older until eventually we become that leader. It is likely that our evolving view of leadership is both as a result of nature and nurture. Every child grows up in an environment they experience leadership examples whether at school, community, a part of a team, church, peer groups and even their siblings. All of these shape their view of leadership.

Categories : Categories : Leadership, Potential, Visioning

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