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LiNE Zine Fall 2001 - The Changing Nature of Leadership

LiNE Zine Fall 2001 - The Changing Nature of Leadership

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Published by Jay Cross

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Published by: Jay Cross on Mar 10, 2008
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LiNE Zine Fall 2001 - The Changing Nature of Leadership by Jay Crosshttp://www.linezine.com/6.2/articles/jccnol.htm1 of 63/9/08 1:49 PM
Click to print article Sidebar Links
Jay Crossispresident of Internet TimeGroupand CEO of eLearning Forum.John Kotter’sLeading ChangeDruckerFoundation’sLeader to LeaderSun Tzu’sThe Artof WarInternet TimeGroup ontimeJohn SeelyBrown’sSocial Lifeof InformationTheeLearningFAQ
 
1996
Not so many years ago, banks were peeking out from under regulations that hadblanketed them since the Great Depression. Before the nineties, banks hadprospered if they executed well. Afterward, they excelled only at the expense of theircompetitors. The competitors were ferocious—no longer simply other banks, theyincluded aggressive insurance companies, stockbrokers, financial planners, creditcard firms, finance companies, leasing companies, credit unions and more.Six years ago, I was managing marketing and special projects for a company thatenjoyed wide success training bankers. Our programs had taught more than amillion bankers to make sound loan decisions, serve customers well, and sell services.By 1995, however,bank customerswere taking their business to innovators, notrule-followers. Our standard sales training wasn’t doing the trick for bankers. Howcould we help them become more innovative and customer-focused? How aboutleadership? Bingo! A course in frontline leadership would set us apart and help ourcustomers think out of the box. That’s how I came to invest two months studyingleadership.Intellectual daredevil that I am, I set out to identify what top-performing leaders do.From March through May of 1996, I discussed leadership with dozens of people andreadDrucker, Bennis, Kouzes & Posner, Schein, Schon, Argyris, Depree, Katzenbach,Blanchard, Gellerman, Handy, Hamel & Prahalad, Senge, and even Tom Peters. Iconcluded that exemplary leaders inspire followers, leverage the power of people,continuously improve performance, and feel personally empowered.Front-line leaders thrived on change. They opened people’s eyes to marketplacerealities and converted higher-level objectives into a vision everyone couldunderstand. They used “localized reengineering” to reinvent the workplace. Theyintuitively applied the 80/20 rule and eliminated the inconsequential. Theytransformed the way business was done.It struck me that leaders needed not only to work on skills but also to work onthemselves. Leading a team into uncharted territory required confidence andself-knowledge. Successful leaders knew who they were, were mindfully aware of whatwas going on around them, and exuded confidence that they could get the job done.My marketing antennae told me this personal empowerment angle would also makefor a popular course.At the time I was doing my research, Harvard Business School’sJohn Kotterwaschampioning the concept that leaders and managers are entirely different breeds.The manager keeps things on track; the leader breaks through obsolete boundaries.Managers control; leaders inspire.
 
LiNE Zine Fall 2001 - The Changing Nature of Leadership by Jay Crosshttp://www.linezine.com/6.2/articles/jccnol.htm2 of 63/9/08 1:49 PM
As I saw it, the
manager’s job
was to keep things withinreason. Managers were borderguards, reining in behavior thatovershot or undershot acceptedstandards.The
leader’s role
was to draw newboundaries—change the organization,and then to inspire people to get outof their comfort zone and into the newgroove.
2001
Now leadership is popular in business.Booksteach you leadership’s 108 skills, 101 Innovative Ways, 30 MarineManagement Principles, 22 Vital Traits, 21 Indispensable Qualities, 21 IrrefutableLaws, 21 Most Powerful Minutes, 18 Workshops, 17 Indisputable Laws, 17 Principles,15 Secrets, 11 Lessons, 12 Principles, 10 Traits, Ten Keys, Nine Keys, 7 Acts of Courage, Seven Habits, Six Fail-safe Strategies, Six Strategic Principles, FiveTemptations, Five Giant Steps, Five Decision Styles, Five Practices, Four Disciplines,Four Practical Revolutions, Three Keys, One Minute, and the Other 90%.You can learn from such luminaries asJack Welch,Abraham Lincoln, Ernest Shakleton,Sun-Tzu, Dean Smith,Attila the Hun, John F. Kennedy, Carl von Clausewitz, George Patton, Jesus, Theodore Roosevelt, Vince Lombardi, Robert E. Lee,Admiral Lord Nelson, Ben & Jerry, Shakespeare, Bill Russell, God, Hannibal, NiccoloMachiavelli, Gandhi,Ronald Reagan, Elizabeth I, the Founding Fathers, andHeraclitus. (Sun Tzu leads the pack but perhaps that’s because his work went out of copyright several thousand years ago.)Why the current interest in leadership? For one thing, the boundaries are no longerclear. They shift all the time. Nothing, but nothing, is rock solid any more.
 
LiNE Zine Fall 2001 - The Changing Nature of Leadership by Jay Crosshttp://www.linezine.com/6.2/articles/jccnol.htm3 of 63/9/08 1:49 PM
 Consider, six years ago:the Internetwas not even a blip on the Fortune 500’s radar. The Web was forgeeks; there were 23,500 sites (today it’s 32,000,000). Netscape was poisedto go public. The Dow was under 5,000. These things did not exist: MicrosoftInternet Explorer, eBay, ADSL, DVD, 56K modems, ICQ, Google, or eBusiness.many companies were still command-and-control hierarchies. Competitors werethe enemy. Outsourcing was uncommon.Telecommutingwas virtuallyunknown.companies still madefive-year plans.the speed of light was thought to be aconstant.Wide, ever-shifting boundaries change all the rules. We once rewarded compliance;today we reward innovation. We once praised obedience; today we praise ad hocsolutions. Yesterday’s subversive employee is today’s innovator. Leadership—creatingvalue by hopping outside boundaries—used to be the province of a well-paid,well-educated few somewhere near the top of the pyramid.Turbulent times have converted leadership into a responsibility shared by allmembers of the organization.These leaders realize the importance of the web where everything is connected.Savvy companies share information far and wide. AsJan Carlzonsays, “Informationtells you about your possibilities. A person who has source information cannot escapetaking responsibility.” In his book,Moments of Truth, Carlzon explains: “We [once] controlled people at work by giving orders and instructions, telling themdown to every detail what they should do out there—although we never had any realfeeling for or information about what the customer really wanted. The worst of it wasthat the instructions really amounted to telling people what they were not allowed todo; it was just a way of limiting their responsibility. “But what you need to do today is open things up so people can take responsibility.You have to give them the authority they need to make decisions on the spot. You dothat by telling people where you want to get to as a company, and the strategy youwant to use to get there. Then you give the people the freedom within the limits of your business strategy to act on behalf of the company.” Networks have made information both inside and outside the organization abundant,and this shifts the burden of leadership to everyone’s shoulders.

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