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Bono on what makes a great leader

Interesting how celebrity and leadership connect today, isn’t it. I mean, for example, Bob Geldof going from pop…not ‘star’, since his had waned till he took up the mantle of leader of a world movement against poverty…’pop figure’, I guess, to a kind of world leader.

His Irish glimmer twin (that’s a Rolling Stones reference for you old enough to get it) Bono has become his co-leader. Equally articulate and passionate (what is it about the Irish and a beautiful turn of phrase: I’m a quarter Irish and I resent the fact that I don’t have a quarter of Geldof or Bono’s eloquence), he is blogging from the Millennium Development Goals summit at the moment in New York. In his latest blog he describes a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and throws in this description:

“Both the first lady and the president change the molecular structure of any room they are in – he speeds them up, she calms them down. A great team. “

‘Change the molecular structure of the room they are in’…what a great phrase for describing what leaders do.

Bono also says of the diminutive Sarkozy: “Sarko is a real physical presence in a room. He might even be taller than me… animated, funny one minute; annoyed the next. I admire his energy and vision.”

And he describes how Sarkozy reaches across and grabs his arm at one point, and how Carla Bruni, his wife, uses storytelling to capture the imagination.

So, if you want to read Bono’s posts there is a scattering of leadership learning jewels in there, such as:

1. How great leaders connect on a personal, intimate basis;

2. The power of leadership partnerships of contrasting styles (Sarko and Bruni sound like Hewlett and Packard – leadership partnerships haven’t been studied enough, and we focus as a result too much on leadership as being about individuals, whereas leadership is really something that happens between people, not something one person does to lots of others);

3. The importance of a leader as a generator or releaser of energy – in a meeting, in their daily work – and so on.

There’s also a powerful reminder of the point Al Gore and Kofi Annan made at Leaders in London last year – how the rest of the world needs a strong Africa that is not mired in poverty if the rest of the world is to be strong and prosperous, and that this is one of the biggest issues for world leadership today.

Bono’s blog, which dissects Sarkozy’s leadership style based on his meeting with him, is here

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