So often we hear from leaders in all sectors – business, government and not for profit – about how they are willing to make the “tough calls”. This typically happens as they are pounding a podium or a table for emphasis. They look like such strong leaders – which is precisely the point. They look like a leader.
True leaders, on the other hand, don’t have to look like anything. True leaders are trying to minimize their participation to the barest of minimums. They lead by creating an environment where quality information lights the path to the right decision. And instinct is left in the darkest corner.
Jim Collins makes it very clear in his book Good to Great what a Level 5 leader looks like. Where the interests of the organization are paramount. And the interests of the senior executive are irrelevant. Podium pounding executives willing to make the “tough decisions” are not leaders at all. They are for self-aggrandizement. They are for what it “looks” like. They are for using their instinct – and arrogantly believing their instinct is superior to their colleagues and competitors.
The leader on the other hand works to flip that conversation. They work to create an environment that minimizes what people think – and maximizes what people know. Then the debate is not personal (where people argue about each others instinct) – rather, the debate is about what the information means.
With clear vision – a quantifiable definition of success before the year begins – a high quality information system that tells leaders precisely how the organization is performing compared to that definition of success – and a culture that is founded in maximizing information and on minimizing instinct … that is a recipe for sustained organizational greatness.
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