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This is a time for leaders

As we are in the middle of turbulent times – getting more turbulent by the minute judging by Lehman, Merrill Lynch, Alitalia, Lloyds TSB/HBOS…the list goes on – more than ever we need to be clear on what leadership actually is. Because it’s leadership that’ll haul us out of the current situation, sooner or later.

Your leadership of your organization, or business unit or whatever you lead, is part of this. Cumulatively, the decisions we all make help set a direction, shape the climate. So, listen up on how to lead through turbulent times, to help us make the right decisions. First up, Rene Carayol:

Management vs Leadership

In predictable times, management is often enough, Rene tells us. But, turbulent times are when you need to push leadership to the fore. What’s the difference?

“If management is what we do, leadership is how we feel.”

“Managers talk strategy. Leaders tell stories.”

– Rene Carayol, Leaders in London Chairman

Next up, Ben Zander, who reminds us that leadership comes down to three things:

“1. Realize it’s all invented. Don’t follow the rules.
2. Radiate possibilities
3. Take the work seriously, but not yourself.”

– Orchestra conductor Ben Zander, speaking at last year’s Leaders in London

Lastly, Al Gore, also from Leaders in London 2008, with perhaps the most important lesson for leaders in the current situation:

“Leadership means inspiring us to manage through our fears.”

Up until the past year or so, most of us have been leading our organizations through optimistic times. Up until the past year, even a muppet of a CEO could return double digit annual growth in some sectors. That was then, this is now. That was easy, this is…something new.

It’s a time for real leadership. People are scared. You may have to deliver bad news, deal with situations you’ve never faced before, reassure and inspire people who are unused to such uncertainty and need steadying. You can’t manage your way through this one. Take that management hat off. Time for you to step up. This is a time for leaders.


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