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Getting beyond the BS of leadership literature

Oversimplification

The moral framing of leadership does not consider the real complexities and difficulties that leaders face.

Sometimes, being pragmatic necessitates doing seemingly bad things to achieve good results. This means that leaders may have to act in strategic misrepresentation, contrary to their own feelings.

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Getting beyond the BS of leadership literature

Getting beyond the BS of leadership literature

https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/leadership/getting-beyond-the-bs-of-leadership-literature

mckinsey.com

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Key Ideas

Leadership literature

Leadership failures in government, business, and nonprofits have created a demand for leadership studies and literature.

Unfortunately, these materials describe unreachable ideals that are far removed from organizational reality, and therefore useless in practice.

The morality tale

Leadership has become a kind of morality tale: Leaders are supposed to be authentic and truthful, paying attention to their employees' well-being and building trust.

Oversimplification

The moral framing of leadership does not consider the real complexities and difficulties that leaders face.

Sometimes, being pragmatic necessitates doing seemingly bad things to achieve good results. This means that leaders may have to act in strategic misrepresentation, contrary to their own feelings.

Separating good from bad actions

Dividing leaders and their actions into "good" and "bad" oversimplifies a more complex reality of human behavior. People act differently depending on their circumstances and the various roles they play. For example, leaders may behave differently with their families than they do at work.

Achieving important objectives require behavior that is different from a leader's inherent traits. The lack of these attitudes cannot be used as an excuse. Certain behaviors and skills can be learned.

Build your power base relentlessly

A job can be turned into a power base by:
  • building a reputation for creating and providing resources that are useful to others
  • efficiently building relationships, even with enemies, and using this to your advantage.

Embrace ambiguity

The reality that many people face in many sectors is the problem of getting things done in an imperfect world. 

This means that sometimes questionable and obscure actions need to be employed to gain the desired outcome.

Avoid popularity contests

Bringing great ideas to life can sometimes be uncomfortable for leaders. Leadership is not about winning popularity contests or being the most beloved person.

Leaders are sometimes required to be hard on the people who work in close proximity to them.  

Adapt when it is necessary

It is important to be willing to learn, evolve, and develop when it is required. 

Leaders need to develop the ability to do what is required in a situation. It might mean knowing how to be strategic with the truth or to learn to display energy and confidence that is not really felt.

Master the science of influence

People are often lazy to think, not just cognitively biased. It makes everyone susceptible to influence strategies, even if we are familiar with them. These tactics depend on accepting and obeying the symbols of authority, the power of liking, the value created by scarcity.

These influence strategies present us with tools we potentially have available if we take the time to learn to master their use.

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Character, Not Style

Leadership has to do with who we are as human beings and the forces that shaped us. Style is the outward manifestation of one’s authentic leadership

Authentic leaders must adapt their styles to fit the situation and capabilities of their teammates.

Real And Genuine

You can’t pretend to be an authentic leader for long because people will eventually sense the lack of authenticity, and ultimately you will not gain the trust of your teammates.

If you are real and genuine people will see you as trustworthy and willing to learn, they will respond positively to requests for help in getting through difficult times.

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1800: Jefferson and Adams
1800: Jefferson and Adams

The outcome was so bizarre, the United States had to amend the Constitution.

  • The election of 1800 saw Thomas Jefferson tie with his Democratic-Republican "running mate" Aaron Burr. Both...
1824: 'Corrupt bargain'
  • Andrew Jackson won the popular vote by less than 39,000 ballots and took 99 Electoral College votes. John Quincy Adams secured 84, William Crawford won 41, and Henry Clay had 37.
  • Clay, with the least votes, got the boot, and his supporters shifted their support to Adams, who would go on to win the majority of the House vote.

After his inauguration, Adams selected Clay as his secretary of state. Jackson accused Adams and Clay of a "corrupt bargain."

1860: Nation divided

The 1860 election was notable because it ripped the long-dominant Party (and nation) in half.

  • The Democrats were unable at their 1860 convention to establish an official party line on slavery.
  • At a second convention that year, the Democrats nominated Stephen Douglas, but many Southerners in the party selected Breckinridge as their man. Both would claim to be the official Democratic candidate.
  • Lincoln snared 40% of the popular vote but took most of the North in the Electoral College.
  • Douglas was second in the popular vote but took only Missouri.
  • Breckenridge took most of the South.
  • Bell's middle of the road policies earned him the middle of the road.

In 1861, delegates from South Carolina, and six of the Southern states formed the Confederate States of America and selected Jefferson Davis as their president.

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The Importance Of Business Ethics

The way to becoming a great leader is through your core values, business ethics and leadership qualities which precede you in both your business and personal life.

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Becoming A Better Leader
  • Read the life stories of those with leadership qualities that you admire and think about how to apply their lessons to your life.
  • Analyze your key relationships regularly and resolve to live in truth with the most important people in your life.
  • Keep your promises and commitments as part of your core values and leadership qualities.
3 Areas Of Life To Develop Integrity
  1. Personal Life: refuse to say or do something that you don’t believe is right and refuse to tolerate or compromise in situations where you are unhappy with the behavior of another.
  2. Financial: Casualness toward money, yours or not, brings financial casualties. Fiercely guard your credit rating, pay your bills in time and keep your word on your financial commitments.
  3. Commitment To Others: Always keep your word, be trustworthy and honorable no matter the circumstances.

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