I'm Sorry I Broke Your Company: When Management Consultants Are the Problem, Not the Solution 5/6

Part 4.

Great Leaders Don’t Fit the Models

The Ongoing Debate: What traits make a leader?

  • Without the tools we’ve just thrown away, how can we identify the future leaders of the company?

  • The risk is that the company will turn mediocre and then irrelevant.

  • Current “leadership development programs” assume there’s a specific set of capabilities that can be learned, and this includes personal attributes (“self-awareness”).

  • Assumptions: leadership ability can be broken down in components; leaders possess the same set of skills and attributes that can be developed if one doesn’t possess them already. [already funny, right?]

  • Regardless of different models of CEO traits, all of them are based on the belief that leaders can be made. [A small conflict of interest as the developers of these models sell consulting services.]

What Are Leadership Assessments Actually Assessing?

  • The outcome is a list of strengths [to develop further] and weaknesses [to address].

  • Assessment of attributes often makes it into performance reviews.

  • Some companies have training programs to master some of these skills.

  • (And how not to confuse narcissist behaviour for confidence?)

  • Every rule is elusive as there are lots of other successful leaders breaking it.

We Use Teams Because One Person Can’t Be Good at Everything

  • People adapt to strengths and weaknesses of themselves and others; surrounding people with strengths balancing your weaknesses is important.

  • Followers also adapt to the weaknesses of their leaders.

  • Great companies’ CEOs recognise and exploit potential of good ideas and people.

  • The goal is maximising the good qualities of a team and at the same time minimising their weaknesses.

  • Instead of focusing on a collection of skills from different employees, companies try to develop all skills in all of them, which is a mistake.

  • Drive + talent are the two defining skills.

Trying to Be Good at Everything Is the Way to Achieve Mediocrity

  • True, companies investing into employees outperform those that don’t.

  • Trying to get everyone to be better at everything inhibits leadership development.

  • People may get discouraged by having to take topics/subjects they don’t want or have no use for.

  • Training programs may limit the horizons due to the focus on wrong topics instead of expanding them.

  • Training programs also lag the actual speed of world development. They also must not be a replacement for people’s natural curiosity.

There’s No Recipe or Checklist for Self-Actualisation

  • None of the things that bring a person forward are company or school sanctioned.

  • Having children teaches to deal with other people on their terms. [MK: couldn’t agree more]

  • Not fitting in the job, but getting trained on something one doesn’t need does nothing to find passion and self-actualise.

But what can work?

  • Do offer training, but make it a mix of in-house, external and “you get to choose” classes.

  • Internal programs: determine up to 5 skills you would like all participants to master.

  • Coaching, feedback and conflict resolution are good skills to master.

  • Onboarding and manager training are a good idea, too.

  • Encourage employees to seek training and conferences of their own choosing (usually – outside of the immediate area of responsibility) and ask them to share with others. [MK: we’ve had this in Aviasales from very early days]

  • Look for people who get the job done and volunteer to help others and with information – and promote them.

  • Also (optionally) offer employees to apply to leadership programs requiring a lengthy application process to weed out those without ambition.

Part 6.