One of our Fellows recently asked whether we thought the “titans of modern industry”—the Rockefellers, Carnegies, and JP Morgans—were passionate or not. What about Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg? It is almost impossible to answer that question without having direct knowledge of an individual—such figures have moved into the realm of mythology and even their own accounts of their actions and motivations were written under the veil of looking backward over a successful career. But the Fellow’s underlying question is more relevant: Why does passion matter? If we were to say that such leaders and influencers may or may not have had passion, as we define it, then who cares about passion?
It's often said that even the most respected leaders are considered by many to be ruthless, even brutal at times. Of course, often when leaders are perceived as merciless, that hard perception belongs to those who did not deserve any mercy.
Great leaders have to be tough and decisive. Often their decisions will displease many, but they can't effectively lead if every decision is the result of democracy or consensus. This is the difficult path for the leader. It's easy to stay popular when you appease everyone, but rarely will that drive a large organization to success. They must make the best decision taking all the needs and wants into account. Ultimately, they have to lead the way or step aside.
Here are five ways a leader must be uncompromising and perhaps ruthless in order to benefit a loyal following. See if you have the strength to be tough when needed.
What would you do if you had a working prototype of a revolutionary tablet computer that was receiving rave reviews well before Apple came out with its iPad? Cancel further funding for the project in favor of developing an updated version of an existing company product? In hindsight that seems crazy, but it’s exactly what Microsoft did with its prototype “Courier” tablet.
Similar fates often befall innovations within large companies. It is not enough to come up with next great idea. To turn that idea into a reality you have to influence people and gain their support. You must do that in the face of vast forces arrayed against innovation within an established organization, which include inertia, resistance to change, fear of failure, financial disincentives, and the tendency of people and organizations to favor what has worked in the past. Then there’s what might be the biggest hurdle of all, people’s inability to envision something that is truly different.
The rate of change in business today is astronomic—and only increasing in speed. Moreover, the degrees of change that any single team or company experiences have a systemic impact upon the supporting and functional areas of that organization.
Teacher Andrew Jones explains the difference between coaching and mentoring, and how they suit different professional development needs
Coaching, on the other hand, consists of peer-to-peer discussions that provide the person being coached with objective feedback on their strengths and weaknesses in areas chosen by them. While discussion is led by the coach, they ask questions that allow the professional seeking advice to reflect on their practice and set their own goals for improvement. This is the opposite of mentoring as the coach does not evaluate, judge or set targets, and the person being coached is in full control of the discussion.
Unlike mentoring, coaching also gives the recipient more say on the direction of their professional development and encourages them to take more ownership of their CPD.
Up to 87.7 percent of America’s workforce is not able to contribute to their full potential because they don’t have passion for their work. Less than 12.3 percent of America’s workforce possesses the attributes of worker passion. This “passion gap” is important because passionate workers are committed to continually achieving higher levels of performance. In today’s rapidly changing business environment, companies need passionate workers because such workers can drive extreme and sustained performance improvement—more than the one-time performance “bump” that follows a bonus or the implementation of a worker engagement initiative. These workers have both personal resilience and an orientation toward learning and improvement that helps organizations develop the resilience needed to withstand and grow stronger from continuous market challenges and disruptions.
Over a 10 year period from 1991 to 2001 my firm made over 400 presentations to groups of CEOs at emerging and entrepreneurial companies. The presentations were largely the same. All focused on how to select people to grow the company.
One big idea was to map the types of people the company was hiring to its business strategy. The other point, while not as grand, was more important: If hiring top talent is important to your company's growth make this the primary measure of how you reward and promote your hiring managers. Although 90% of the CEOs believed in the concept, few did anything to make this part of their company's culture.
Remember your kindergarten report card, when you were evaluated on things like your ability to follow directions, name the colors, and sing the alphabet? It also included an early assessment of a skill that would influence your success for the rest of your life: the ability to "play well with others." The criteria were pretty basic at the time: share, wait your turn, don't hit or yell, help when someone is struggling. As you grow up, many of the same basic principles apply, but situations can be much more complicated for adults to play well together and still achieve desired results.
Context and personal needs often create internal conflict when trying to weigh the needs of the few against the good of the whole. And as a leader, sometimes you have to make a conscious choice to make others unhappy. Still, with a little finesse, you can meet objectives and still all play in a happy sandbox. You may not satisfy everyone all of the time, but then working together to resolve conflicts, rather than just being pleasant all of the time, can make a team stronger.