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Where Have All The Heroes Gone?

You may have already heard the big news Captain America has died. Of course, as with all superheroes, he'll eventually get better if the guy can survive being stuck in an iceberg for 20 years, it's not likely a mere bullet will slow him down for long. But just as they were getting ready to bury the good captain, a new study came out that indicates that the entire concept of hero leadership itself is dying.

There's no indication that the study's publication was deliberately released to coincide with Captain America's death. Nevertheless, Andr Martin, the study's author and a senior associate with The Center for Creative Leadership, displays a neat sense of timing when he observes, "We are seeing the demise of the hero leader and a rise in collaboration. Because the challenges leaders face are becoming more complex and therefore more difficult to solve, collaborative leadership is necessary."

In the study, the CCL surveyed more than 300 mid- to upper-level managers globally and discovered in the process that more than half say their expectations of their company's leaders are not being met. While most leaders believe they're capable of tackling any problems that come up at their companies (no surprise there), in practice it's typically taking those leaders six months or more to solve those problems. Of course, in studies like this, there's no way of knowing exactly how difficult those problems might be if a company is completely in the tank, it's certainly going to take more than six months to get everything fixed.

In any event, other results from the study include:

* More than 84% of the participants believe that the definition of effective leadership has changed over the past five years.

* More than 60% agree that leaders face challenges that go beyond their individual capabilities.

* 58% acknowledge that interdependent work is the foundation of effective leadership.

As a result, according to Martin's research, some companies are looking for a new type of leader, one whose skills include participative management, building and mending relationships, and change management. These qualities, Martin says, are replacing decisiveness and "doing whatever it takes" as characteristics of a strong leader.

Is this a long-term trend, or just a flavor-of-the-month spin on the collaboration bandwagon? Hard to say. Bear one thing in mind, though: The Man of Steel himself, Superman, died about a decade ago, but it didn't take long for him to get better. I suspect Captain America's demise will be equally short-lived because one thing every organization whether it be a manufacturing company or an entire nation needs is a strong leader.

TAGS: Supply Chain
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