Nietzsche wrote, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” In the case of leadership nothing could be further from the truth. Leadership appears easy. However, in these days of complexity it is and can be wrought with peril.
If you’re looking for someone to solve your problems, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for the “man with the plan,” look elsewhere. If you’re looking for someone to get things organized, don’t ask me. I’m a leader, and that’s not what I do.
So what exactly do I do?
I prepare organizations for change, and help them cope as they struggle through change.
This is innovation and leadership guru John Kotter’s definition of leadership, which he distinguishes from management. Management talent rests on the ability to cope with complexity. That is a nice skill to have, but it is not enough, Kotter says. Leadership requires the ability to cope with rapid change and the ability to set the direction forward. This ability is not innate. It can be learned. And yet, identifying and honing leadership skills is no easy feat.
While it may not be that extreme for those in middle management, leaders can still take a page from Mandela’s playbook by picking themselves up when they get knocked down.
“People who learn to give really, really good leadership go the opposite direction,” Kotter says. “They kind of pick themselves up, dust themselves off. Through hardship you really can become stronger.” […]
Jim Woods is president of InnoThink Group and Leadership Matters. He is a leader in workplace learning, productivity, performance, and leadership training solutions. For over 25 years, we have helped companies improve their performance, productivity, and bottom-line results.