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Give people a convincing reason and they will lay down their very lives.

Last-century success meant making big profits for shareholders, with few questions asked, so long as it was broadly legal.

Real Success in future will be far more difficult to define. It will mean demonstrating how your corporation makes a real difference for everyone: for shareholders of course, but also for your customers, and your workers, for the wider community, and in some small way for the whole of humanity – for example by protecting the environment.

“Global leadership requires a new set of competencies blended with a wholeness of emotional experiences.  These include technological savvy, anticipating opportunity, personal mastery, constructive conflict, thinking globally, appreciating diversity, building partnerships, sharing leadership, creating a shared vision, demonstrating integrity, empowering people, leading change, developing people, ensuring customer satisfaction, and maintaining a competitive advantage.”  Warren Bennis:  foreword  to Global Leadership - Survey of emerging business leaders.

Leadership is in some ways the most important human activity in the world, and the most important element in any successful business.  Leadership releases people to be all they can be. Leadership enables great projects to be completed, goals achieved.  Leadership inspires, provokes, challenges, envisions, encourages.  Leadership is found everywhere, is simple to do, hard to imitate, something that people can fall into by accident and others struggle for years to achieve.

Each person’s leadership is totally unique, an expression of their entire being, a fusion of all they are, all their interests and passions in life, all their life-experience, all their own hopes and dreams, attitudes and convictions. Leadership can be extrovert or introvert, noisy and exuberant or quiet and restrained, self-confident to the point of arrogance, or self-effacing with humility. 

Leadership at best is a joyful, fun, exciting, life-enhancing and exhilarating experience – when many people gladly join forces with you in racing towards a common cause.  Leadership at worst can be a frustrating, worrying, tedious and soul-destroying process – when some are working against everything you are trying to achieve.

It is hard to imagine a world without leadership - no organisations, no institutions, no significant commercial life, no government, no law and order, no role models and no parenting.

Leadership is a profound mystery because, despite huge efforts to analyse its component parts, it cannot be turned on or off, cannot be packaged, nor placed in a neat box. 

Great leadership is timeless and goes far beyond culture or situation.  Thus we see time-warp leadership reaching one generation from another that lived hundreds or thousands of years ago, in the influence of oral traditions, in writings whether religious or secular, and more recently in sound and video recordings.

Adapted from Building a Better Business - book by Patrick Dixon.


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