Leaders or leadership?
Companies have to move fast these days in order to stay ahead of the game.
Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple puts it like this: “There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love. ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’ And we’ve always tried to do that at Apple.”
We know that the quickest way to shift gears is through a shift in leadership behaviour. In most cases, people think about leaders as individuals. Heifetz and Linsky, however, point out that leaders tend to be people who are placed in positions of authority, and who are expected to exercise that authority in a particular way (explaining visions, giving answers, giving direction, providing resources etc). They argue that the real work of leadership is in fact not about meeting such expectations, but about people helping others to make progress on the most difficult adaptive challenges facing the business.
They prefer to talk about leadership rather than leaders – a process rather than a role. It is worth thinking about this distinction if you are running leadership development activities in your company, or indeed if you are taking part in them. Leadership of this kind will certainly get you to where the puck is going, not where it has been.