What makes a great leader? That question has spurned endless debate and discussion for centuries. In business, we strive to identify those with strong leadership skills and put them in positions where they can lead others.
The 2007 book Lone Survivor tells the true story of a failed Navy SEAL mission in Afghanistan from the viewpoint of the only person who survived, Marcus Luttrell. The book—and later a film of the same title—recounts the details of a mission gone wrong and the battle for survival.
I often talk about the characteristics of the people with whom I want to work. In their book How Google Works, Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg talk about the type of people they had at Google. And the two of them should know—Schmidt is the executive chairman and ex-CEO, and Rosenberg is a former SVP of products. Both came to Google after its founding and had to adapt to an existing culture that was very particular and reflected the principles of the founders.
In my last post, I wrote about an article that appeared in the June issue of Harvard Business Review (“The Big Idea: 21st-Century Talent Spotting”). The subject of the article was hiring for potential. Of course, to do so, one must know how to determine a person’s potential. The article’s author, Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, provided five qualities he looks for in determining an individual’s potential: read more…
On November 7, 1967, 1st Lieutenant Lee Ellis was shot down over North Vietnam. He would spend the next five-plus years as a POW. Not only did he survive the North Vietnamese prison camps, but he also remained in the military after his release, finally retiring as a colonel. And his combat decorations include two Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, and the Prisoner of War Medal.
Marvin Bower joined McKinsey & Company in 1933 and served as the management consulting firm’s managing partner from 1950 to 1967. In 1997, he published a book titled The Will to Lead: Running a Business with a Network of Leaders, in which he shares his perspectives on leadership. One of Bower’s beliefs is that a command-and-control management structure “with each superior exercising authority over subordinates who do exactly what their boss wants” is flawed and presents numerous problems for companies. And in the book, he makes a case that this type of structure has to be replaced: “Authority should be replaced by leadership.”
Have you ever faced a problem at work that seemed so overwhelming, so insurmountable that you struggled to even know how to begin to resolve it? And the more you studied the problem, the more convinced you became that the solution must be equally as complex. Your exercise in problem solving became a downward spiral until you were more confused by the answer you came up with than you were with the original problem.
I’ve been reading Tell My Sons . . . by Lieutenant Colonel Mark Weber. The book is filled with the life lessons he has learned. After a routine Army physical revealed he had stage IV intestinal cancer, he began a battle for his life that he ultimately will lose. When he realized he wouldn’t be able to conquer his cancer, he began writing a letter to his three sons, which became this book.
This week, Dan Oswald reviews the book Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us and shares the questions the book made him ask about management style and the insights into the necessity of trusting employees to consider a new way of managing employees.
Before I headed to the airport today, the president of our company, Bob Brady, handed me a book and said something like, “This is a quick read and I really think you’ll enjoy it.” The book he gave me was The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed, by Adam Bryant.
Boy, was Bob right.