The Science of Leadership: 6 Questions to Think About

In what became a two-part segment on 21st Century Leadership thanks to a precipitous lightning strike that took us off the air on the June 30th show, a guest panel that included Bill McAneny (Frankenstein’s Manager: Leadership’s Missing Links), Dr. Gaby Cora (Leading Under Pressure), Merydith Willoughby (Sex in the Boardroom), and Forrest Breyfogle III (IEE: Beyond Six Sigma and the Balanced Scorecard), discussed (and debated) the critical attributes of the 21st Century Business Leader.

In a post show review, I came up with six questions that we all need to think about in terms of how we see and subsequently work under today’s leaders.

Here they are for your contemplation and feedback:

1. With regard to systems such as Lean or Six Sigma are they in reality a crutch for poor organizational leadership?

2. To be an effective leadership tool does for example Six Sigma have to transition from a “siloed” program-centric or program-specific tool, to an enterprise-wide collaborative synchronization of a collective outcome strategy?

3. Are true leaders representative of a “blending” of innate aptitude with learned capabilities?

4. For those of you who are sports fans, and in particular hockey, Mike Keenan has been described as being an effective coach/manager with a new (and younger) team.  However, as the team matures, his “tactics” and style seems to wear thin and become ineffective.  Does this mean that a leader has for all intents and purposes a “shelf life?”

5. Is it important to match a leader with the “right” company?  If it is, does the leader who “comes up through the ranks” have a decided advantage over an outsider or “hired gun” who is purposefully brought into lead?  Why?

6. Research shows that few family companies manage to emerge unscathed from power shifts, with some estimates indicating that less than half survive to the second generation and 12% to the third generation.  Is this a reflection of poor leadership skills relating to the founder, or to the heirs themselves?

In the meantime, if you have not had the opportunity to listen to the two-part PI Window on Business broadcasts titled “21st Century Leadership: An Evolutionary Profile,” here are the on-demand links; June 30th & July 2nd.

For additional information on the members of our guest panel visit the Book Resource Center of this Blog.

One Response to “The Science of Leadership: 6 Questions to Think About”
  1. Paul Hayward says:

    1. Not at the outset. Anyone that has the courage, foresight and humility to introduce such concepts into an organization is not lacking in leadership ability.

    2. No. It’s perfectly possible to use Lean and Six Sigma where most appropriate while other parts of the organization function better under a different regimen. People capable of distinguishing the difference requirements are using the most effective combination.

    3. Is the argument that a leader who is not a “blending” of innate aptitude with learned capabilities is, somehow, not a “true” leader? That they are only pretending, or are an ersatz version? Anyone who leads is, by definition, a leader whether good, bad or indifferent.

    4. I don’t know the specific case and there are too many variables to comment, e.g. other teams may have learnt to adapt, so his team’s performance is at the same absolute level, it just looks worse in comparison.

    5. Wow. If we could reliably and effectively “match a leader with the ‘right’ company” every time wouldn’t that be great? When leader and company match, that’s outstanding. However, to imagine there is always going to be one best way of getting there is delusional.

    6. It merely demonstrates, yet again, that leadership is not a genetic trait like eye colour. Neither is great musical accomplishment or mathematical ability. Why are we still asking these questions?

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