In a poll of management authors, Jossey-Bass asked the following question: What should a new leader do to establish his/her style and make an impact – without rocking the boat? (The question was prompted by the dismissal of Jack Griffin at Time Inc, after a mere six months on the job, ostensibly because of his ‘leadership style’.”
Among the authors who have weighed in so far were:
- Bob Herbold: What’s Holding You Back?
- Sylvia Lafair: Don’t Bring It To Work
- Guy Harris: From Bud to Boss
- Kevin Eikenberry: From Bud to Boss
- Cy Wakeman: Reality-Based Leadership
- Jeffrey Cohn and Jay Moran: Why Are We Bad At Picking Good Leaders
- Harry Kraemer: From Values To Action
My own answer (#8 in the series) drawing on my book, The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management, was as follows:
I have to start by saying that I have some concerns about the apparent premises that underlie the question.
At a time when the rate of return on assets of US companies is 25% of what it was in 1965, and when the life expectancy of a firm in the Fortune 500 has declined from 75 years in 1965 to less than 15 years today (and heading towards 5 years if nothing is done), and when only one in five workers is fully engaged in his or her work, a preoccupation with “leadership style” and “not rocking the boat” needs to be replaced (in most cases) with a pre-occupation with ascertaining why the boat is sinking, identifying those who understand this, selecting the future champions who have the smarts and leadership skills to create the future of “the boat,” and quickly getting them in positions where they can get to work.
I agree with those authors who have already spoken to the effect that the focus in this endeavor must initially be on listening.
I would add however that there should be less emphasis on “establishing a leadership style” and a more single-minded focus on the substance of finding those who understand the real situation and have practical ideas and talents to refloat the boat and getting it moving forward. The focus needs to be less on “you” as a leader and your “style” and more on “the boat.”
See also my follow-up post: Let’s Celebrate Dilbert Style Management? Huh?
The series is continuing with:
Other authors’ views will be posted here in coming days. Your views?