It's not smart to act as though you're indispensable
Question: Egypt's unfolding political crisis raises a broader question: Can an entrenched, powerful leader, one who has resisted change, successfully lead a country or an organization in a different direction if circumstances suddenly demand it? Or is it necessary to bring in new leadership?
Typically, leaders who become entrenched within an organization rely too much on a tried-and-true recipe for success. They come to feel that their record of accomplishments precludes any necessity for change, without noticing that the environment around them has been transformed.
This kind of leader lacks an essential ingredient of leadership--namely humility. Being humble means you're always learning, scanning the environment, respecting the competition. And it means you develop a line of succession. One of the marks of true leadership is the ability to realize when a new leader is needed, that there's actually a time to walk away for the good of the outfit. The best leaders always consider: Who's eventually going to guide the organization in a different direction when one becomes necessary? Where will the new thinking come from? No smart leader can afford to have a self-image as the indispensable man or woman.
For these reasons, I think it's impossible for an entrenched leader suddenly to change directions. The longstanding culture can't be altered overnight, even if many new faces are added. The same old boss will be running the show. He can try to bring in a bunch of new people, but he isn't likely to grant them the level of latitude required for creating real change.
February 1, 2011; 2:11 PM ET
Category: Crisis leadership , Failures , Government leadership , Making mistakes , Managing Crises , Political leadership , Presidential leadership Save & Share:
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Posted by: katskilton | February 4, 2011 5:06 AM
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