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The Great Leader is…

(This is an extract from September’s Taking The Lead, the monthly email newsletter I write for Leaders in London, published today).

Carly Fiorina led the merger of HP and Compaq before being given the order of the golden boot, but has since had her reputation re-built by results: Thanks to her HP strategy, Hewlett-Packard overtook IBM last year as the world’s largest technology company. Tom Peters, the business guru and a past Leaders in London speaker, now refers to her as his “CEO Hero”. Fiorina likes to quote Lao Tsu:

“A good leader is he whom people revere.
An evil leader is he whom people despise.
A great leader is he of whom the people say
‘We did it ourselves’ “

(Or she, of course). Yes, we’ve used that before here, as it’s my favourite leadership quote.

Fiorina is talking about embedding leadership within the system. At the moment, a lot of companies are dealing with the downturn by pulling leadership – as in decision-making about the future of others – back behind closed doors. Those outside the doors wait to learn their fate; who will be cut, who will stay.

The lesson of every downturn is lost on subsequent managers going through this same process; the approach destroys morale and lowers performance, the very attributes that will get you through the downturn. Smart leaders have open conversations with the workforce and enroll them in helping to find efficiency savings, cut costs, abandon inefficient old ways of working and move to new ones.

(If you found that extract useful, you can subscribe to Taking The Lead here

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