Thursday, 30 September 2010

New generation leadership

One of the hardest jobs for any leader is going off in a different direction. This may only be a small change of direction, but it may be enough for existing followers to stop following. Those followers may somehow feel betrayed by this altered course. “After all that I have done, and now we are doing this?!”

Cutting a fresh path is both harder and easier for a new leader.

It is easier because there is no baggage to jettison, no inconsistency to defend and no loyalty to the past to retain for retention’s sake. And there can be plenty of quoting of George Santayana about ‘those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it’ and so forth. The new leader is at liberty to both praise the old warriors and then, almost in the same sentence, make a virtue of departing from their strategies.

But it is also far harder because there is no guarantee that a new leader will bring the followers of the old leader with them. The new direction may just be too novel and be seen as too much of a break with the past. Existing bonds of friendship and trust will have to be rebuilt by the new leader, as they are now the leader and the world has changed.

The critical judgement comes in how bold to make the new direction. Will it just be ‘new’ in name only? Or will the new leader ‘boldly go where no one has gone before’? How will the new leader judge how bold to be, not just at the start of the new leadership journey but as it continues?

The best leaders have people that they can rely upon and trust to give them independent, full and frank feedback about whether their ‘boldness quotient’ is on the money or not.

How is your ‘BQ’ right now?

(How do you know?)

How will you stay ‘bold’ and avoid the ‘new’ becoming the ‘new old’

(How will you know?)

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