By Jamie Kirk
“Houston, we have a problem.” These were the famous words from the stricken astronauts aboard the Apollo 13 space vessel when a technical malfunction left the crew stranded 200,000 miles from safety. In an iconic scene from the film adaptation, NASA employees gathered in a room and were presented with a small box of jumbled everyday items that the astronauts had in their damaged capsule.
The stark reality was that if they didn’t come up with a solution using just those items then the men would soon perish in space. In the face of this insurmountable uncertainty their commander reminded everyone in the room that “failure is not an option.”
In this time of immediacy, the traditional command structure was replaced by pragmatism. The NASA leaders didn’t care about job titles or what informal teams worked together as long as it produced effective solutions. By working collaboratively within tight constraints they managed against all odds to get the astronauts back to safety. Times of uncertainty, scarcity and high stakes when guided by effective leadership often produce the most creative solutions.
What skills do leaders need to succeed in the global economy? Harvard Business School professor Linda A. Hill and leadership coach and writer Kent Lineback share their point of view as part of our Next Gen Leaders Series.
As globally-integrated firms like IBM are discovering, the roles of formal authority and hierarchy are declining in the workplace. What remains, however, is the core purpose they served – the need to influence others, to make a difference in other people’s actions and the thoughts and feelings that drive those actions.
Thus, the key challenge for IBM and others is this: if authority and hierarchy are waning, what are now the primary tools of influence available to those responsible for the performance of others? How, for example, can IBM’s Global Enablement Teams of senior leaders from mature economies best influence and develop the skills of local managers in emerging economies?
In this new world, we believe there are three key tools of influence, which we call the three imperatives of leadership:
Manage Yourself: Your ability to influence others begins with you and who you are as a person, and the most important feature here is whether people trust you. Are they confident you will do the right thing? Effective leaders now build relationships based on trust, not authority or social ties like friendship. And they do that by earning people’s confidence in their competence and character, the key components of trust. People trust someone who knows what to do and how to do it (competence) and who intends to do the right thing (character). Trust is the foundation of all influence other than coercion.
by Michael Useem, Professor of Management and Director of the Leadership Center, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
A checklist is only as good as its underlying foundation, and the foundation is only as solid as the materials and engineering that go into it. That also applies to effective leadership, which I believe can be distilled into a set of core principles that help leaders navigate complex challenges around the world.
To build a Leader’s Checklist, I have tapped not only my own experience but also that of an array of investigators, researchers, thinkers, and managers. I have concluded that management experience points to a core of just 15 mission-critical leadership principles that vary surprisingly little among companies or countries: Continue Reading »