The answer to the leadership question

By Blair McPherson | 17 September 2019

Those who wish to climb the ladder invariably ask the question: What is the secret to becoming a leader? The question is asked by those starting out on their management career/journey and perhaps more surprisingly by those who are already directors and chief executives. Like the secret to the meaning of life, the universe and everything asked in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, the answer is ‘42’. And like the HGttG the answer is not important. What is important is understanding the question. Or as Marvin the robot with a brain the size of the average planet would explain, ‘knowledge is meaningless without understanding’. Which explains why the new manager and the chief executive may ask the same question but their understanding of that question is very different.

Both groups read the same management books, both look to answers from famous historic leaders and trendy management gurus. Both recognise there is a difference between managers and leaders. Both recognise there are different types of leaders. Both have learned that all leaders have in common the ability to inspire, to take the initiative and to ‘paint a vision of the future’ - explaining how things will look different when we have made our changes. Or to put it another way, both groups know the answer but don’t feel that they have been told the secret.

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