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Leadership: So What?

“Who is she?” and “So what?”

“Who is she?” and “So what?”

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When I was an editor at Harvard Business Review and we received an article proposal from parts unknown, these two questions were the first tough screen.  The first is about the author; the second is about the ideas being proposed.  Does this author have the background, experience and credibility to bring real insight to our battle-hardened CEO’s, company presidents and aspiring executives? Does this particular set of ideas sufficiently meet our trademark “ideas with impact” standard to survive the grueling HBR development process and make it to press?

Or should we, like the ancient Greeks, leave this baby on the hillside?

These two blunt questions – “Who is she?” and “So what?” – apply here.  But it is you, not me, doing the asking.   You need to know that this blog space is worth your while if you are to come back.

So let me briefly introduce myself, and then, more importantly, outline the basics of the leadership conversation that I hope to foster.  Please give feedback – not about me, of course – but about how this blog can best engage all of us together.  As a community intent on improving leadership ideas and practice, we can adapt the plan to have the conversation we need. 

OK, about me.  For this, I will direct the reader to my CV.

Now to the good stuff: the leadership conversation.   As my CV tells you, I have been working in field of leadership for almost 20 years in various roles, gaining a wide variety of experiences in a broad range of industries around the globe.  All of that time, effort, conversation, reading, writing, take-offs and touch-downs have given me a point of view about leadership.   Not a dogma, or The Answer, but a living, breathing, pretty robust point of view that I will be bringing to this blog and testing, refining, revising with your involvement.  This point of view has been immeasurably sharpened and clarified through my collaboration with Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood over the past two years, and is expressed in its most condensed form in our book, Leadership Code: 5 Rules to Lead By. Dave and Norm will weigh in on occasion in this blog as well.

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Here’s a very general outline of the topics this blog will explore.  Not in this order necessarily, and always in the context of the pressing issues of today: recession, innovation, globalization, diversity, uncertainty.   It is the framework of the Leadership Code – the five essential domains of all effective leaders no matter what their context or circumstance:  

  • Effective leaders are strategists. They answer the question, “Where are we going?”  They test their big ideas pragmatically, and they work with others to find the path from the present to the desired future – even in the teeth of a recession.

·         Effective leaders can execute. They ask: “How will we ensure that we reach our goal?”  They understand how to make change and innovation happen, while also keeping the organization steady. 

·         Effective leaders engage today’s talent to generate intense personal, professional, and organizational loyalty – no matter how diverse the population.  They help people to bring their best selves to the job at hand despite the day-to-day challenges of work.

·         Effective leaders build the next generation.   They make sure that the organization has the longer-term skills, knowledge, behaviors and attitudes for future strategic success, and that everyone who can make a positive difference in the future has the opportunity to do at their own highest and best level. 

·         Effective leaders are personally proficient: they manage their physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual selves well.  They learn constantly. They are capable of quick, bold actions and great patience.  They constantly deepen their insight of themselves.

Moving forward we will be seeking outside perspectives from executives, managers, and thought leaders around the globe to help shed light on these topics.  I hope you will join in – everyone’s ideas are important.  Hope to see you again soon.

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Sincerely,

Kate

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