Nurturing leaders

Dec. 21, 2004

Organizational psychologist and consultant Noel M. Tichy has a new "mantra," one that he repeats to his children, to M.B.A. students, and to executives: "Leaders developing leaders," he reiterates, is the key to a successful enterprise. Winning companies win because they have good leaders who nurture the development of other leaders at all levels of the organization," Tichy states in The Leadership Engine. " . . . The ultimate test for a leader is not whether he or she makes smart decisions and takes decisive action, but whether he or she teaches others to be leaders and builds an organization that can sustain success even when he or she is not around." To illustrate his point, Tichy offers lessons from well-known role models such as General Electric Co.'s Jack Welch, PepsiCo Inc.'s Roger Enrico, and Allied Signal Inc.'s Larry Bossidy, as well as less-well-known leaders such as Eleanor Josaitis of Detroit's Focus: HOPE training and education initiative. All share a set of fundamentals as executive/teachers: They take direct responsibility for the development of other leaders; they have teachable points of view; they embody those points of view in stories about their pasts and their beliefs and create stories about the future of their organizations; and they have well-defined methodologies and coaching and teaching techniques. The ultimate test of a leader's commitment to the future comes at the end of his or her career, Tichy says. "Winners," he adds, "care enough about the future and have sufficient confidence in the success of their teaching that they step aside and let the next generation of leaders take over." The Leadership Engine concludes with a 90-plus-page "Handbook for Developing Leaders" that offers assessment tools, practical exercises, and methodologies to help executives improve their leadership abilities and to aid them in teaching others. Executives make two false assumptions about leadership talent, says Morgan W. McCall Jr. First, they assume that there are "born leaders"--individuals who either have the "right stuff" or don't. Second, they think that a kind of natural selection process in organizations assures that only the fittest survive. "Assumptions like these encourage organizations and their leaders to neglect without guilt their investment in executive development," McCall observes in High Flyers, a book that argues both that leadership ability can be learned and that creating the development of talent can become a source of competitive advantage. "The primary classroom for the development of leadership skills is on-the-job experience," McCall argues. The crucial issue, then, becomes "how do we get the 'right' people into the 'right' experiences at the 'right' time?" High Flyers offers a framework for understanding how organizations can select high-potential candidates and match them with the experiences they need to develop into the next generation of leaders. McCall also looks at specific instances when talented executives and managers "derailed" on their development tracks--an exercise he believes is useful in understanding how development takes place and the forces that any development system must contend with. Some executives become mired in the day-to-day tasks of running a business; others develop an ability to take a broader view of their organization and its global context. Norman R. Augustine, chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp., exemplifies the latter in his second book, Augustine's Travels, a sequel to his business bestseller Augustine's Laws. The title's "travels" are both symbolic and real: Augustine has traveled an eventful road as a genuine "rocket scientist" who has held research, engineering, and executive positions in industry and government. And he also recently concluded a whirlwind eight-day tour as a Time magazine honorary journalist to Cuba, Russia, China, and Vietnam, among other countries. Witty and insightful, Augustine shares his adventures as an honorary correspondent, as well as his views on topics such as ethics, leadership, competitiveness, mergers and acquisitions, and education. From IW Contributors: In The Shape Shifters: Continuous Change for Competitive Advantage (1997, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 800-842-3636), IndustryWeek management columnist John L. Mariotti focuses on how executives can create a powerful competitive advantage by continuously changing to create and deliver what customers consider to be best value, now and in the future. Leveraging People and Profit: The Hard Work of Soft Management (1997, Butterworth-Heinemann, 800-366-2665) by Bernard A. Nagle and former IW Editor-in-Chief Perry Pascarella, focuses on the "altrupreneur"--the altruistic manager who conducts the affairs of an enterprise with regard for the welfare of others. The manager who can balance people and profit factors has the best chance of succeeding in the corporation of tomorrow, the authors assert.

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