Individualism of leadership

I’ve been reading a feature in the FT about what it takes to be a leader, which reviews a book called 1000 CEOs published in the UK last month.

Very timely as this was a discussion topic with a good friend just a few days ago.

My point to her was, first, it depends; and, second, it takes all types of individual to be a leader: there is no single answer. We both clearly agreed on that.

And that’s basically what 1000 CEOs’ writer, Andrew Davidson, says according to FT reviewer (and former FT editor), Geoffrey Owen.

[…] What is pleasing about the anthology is the extraordinary variety of personalities, backgrounds and decisions that seem to be compatible with managerial success. No doubt it helps to be visionary, creative and entrepreneurial like Steve Jobs at Apple, but should one also try to be perfectionist (Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook), or combative (Larry Ellison of Oracle), or inspirational and courageous (James McNerney of Boeing)? Is it better to be affable, self-deprecating and relaxed (Jeff Immelt of General Electric), or a hard-hitting, ruthless workaholic (Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase)?

[…] The clearest lesson from the book is that there is no general lesson. It takes all sorts of personalities, and all sorts of career paths, to get to the top. For someone starting out, that must be a source of encouragement.

I’d say it’s a source of encouragement wherever you are in your career as ‘get to the top’ means many different things to different people.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Robert Phillips

    To have a proper sense of Principled Conscience is, I think, an imperative in any genuine leader. I was discussing this with a FTSE 100 CEO only yesterday – about how business leaders with conscience can and should step into the vacuum created by political leaders interested only in rule compliance and self-advancement. see also: http://tinyurl.com/m2q4v7

  2. Cause Related Marketing

    Variety is of course the spice of life in many ways and although there are a bevvy of different types of personalities who have made it to the top, the people cost has to be one of the most important and least tangible to quantify.

    If you have a combative style or an amoral style you may be able to get to the top but you can be sure you will have alienated a lot of people on the way. This will assure one thing in the long run – your reputation will precede you and should a fall from grace be on the cards, there will be a lot of people there to help you on the way back down.

    Sure, business is a contact sport but it’s not necessarily one where you have to kill your opponent to be a great leader imho.

    All the best,
    Tom

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