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The Best Article on Leadership Ever

Date: Dec 26, 2011

One of the biggest challenges in strategic planning is execution. Organizations realize only about 60% of a strategy's potential value because of defects and breakdowns in planning and execution according to Michael C. Mankins and Richard Steele (HBR 2005). The main reason execution fails is ineffective leadership. It is like building a Boeing 787 but not having any pilots trained to fly it. It looks good, everyone knows it will work, but it won't even leave the runway without a skilled pilot. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have seen good strategic plans parked indefinitely on the tarmac because there is no leader to consistently make the decisions to get the plan off the ground and into the air. When you do strategic planning, always, always, always start with leadership assessment of senior leadership. Otherwise, you may have a flight plan and a plane but no pilot.

Thousands of books and articles have been written on the subject of leadership, and I have read a lot of them and implemented a lot of the principles into my consulting practice. However, in my experience as a strategic planning consultant, there is one brief article that stands above the rest, like a Mount Everest towering over lesser peaks, and that is the article Your Leadership is Unique by Peter Drucker. In two pages Drucker imparts more wisdom than other lesser mortals have imparted in tens of thousands of pages.

In this article Drucker distills leadership down to its essence as he discusses leadership in the context of personality. He debunks the widely held opinion that certain personalities make better leaders than others and gives several examples of diversity in style and habits. He then briefly reviews the four things that all leaders know and the six things that all leaders do. If you never read another leadership book for the rest of your life and simply memorize these ten things, model these ten things, and communicate these ten things to others, you would be ahead of 99.9% of all consultants and leaders out there. Drucker concludes the article with a powerful historical illustration (which puts leadership in the context of life and death).

There are four things to know and six things to do. Effective leadership training will encompass these concepts and help leaders develop the necessary skills to apply them in their context. Drucker has the amazing ability to cut through all the nonsense out there and bring everything into crystal, clear focus. There is no fudge factor and no hidden agendas. Leaders start, Drucker says, by asking the question "what needs to be done?" instead of "what do I want?" They understand and operate out of their strengths and do not delegate what only they can do. They focus on results and refuse to get mired in minutiae. These ten things, by the way, constitute, an excellent assessment tool for leaders in your organization. Rank your leaders on each one of the ten concepts on a scale of 1 to 10. In a very short period of time you will have a good snapshot of the quality of your leaders.

As you strive to become a leader, a person of influence and a person of vision, take five minutes and read the greatest leadership article you will ever read: Your Leadership is Unique by Peter Drucker. You can access the article at http://www.boston.goarch.org/assets/files/your%20leadership%20is%20unique.pdf



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