Great Leaders Start with the Future
By George Anderson
According to Marcus Buckingham, author of First, Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently and The One Thing You Need to Know, great leaders and managers are in rare supply in business today.
The best ones, Mr. Buckingham told a Wharton Leadership Conference, share the ability to identify an individual’s talents and then use those abilities to drive performance.
The best managers put their employees in positions where they can use their strengths to succeed, said Mr. Buckingham. Bad managers don’t. That’s why it’s important to focus and build on their strengths instead of trying to continually correct weaknesses.
There is also a big difference between a manager and a leader, according to
the author and management consultant.
“If you are a leader, you better be unflinchingly, unfailingly optimistic. No matter how bleak his or her mood, nothing can undermine a leader’s belief that things can get better, and must get better.”
Great leaders are able to take a “universal truth,” even the scary ones such as fear of change and of the future, and use them to rally followers.
“We all share a fear of the unknown,” said Mr. Buckingham. “The problem for the modern-day leader, of course, is that you traffic in the future.”
“The best way to turn anxiety into confidence is this: Be clear. Clarity is the antidote to anxiety. If you do nothing else as a leader, be clear.”
Management at companies including Best Buy, Tesco and Wal-Mart, said Mr. Buckingham, have built these businesses by being clear about where they were headed.
“When you want to lead, start with the future.” he said. “Get specific. And get vivid.”
Moderator’s Comment: What do you see as the difference
between a manager and a leader? Are there great leaders you’ve known in your
career or in history that have inspired you? What was it about them that made
them a great leader?
For many, myself included, Jesus of Nazareth is the most
inspiring leader in history. While I’m not sure I had previously thought about
it in these terms, he was a great talent evaluator. He clearly saw that Simon,
Andrew, James and John had less than promising careers as fishermen. ;0) The
rest, as they say, is history. –
George Anderson – Moderator