Leading Blog


« The Truth About Becoming a Great Leader | Leading Blog Main Page | The Leader’s Pocket Guide »



12.07.12

Do Leaders Really Matter?

Leadership
Are individual leaders truly responsible for the end result, or do they just happen to be there—for better or worse? asks Gautam Mukunda in Indispensible. To be sure, Lincoln and Churchill have mattered, but does every leader matter?

Of course, every leader matters to someone. But here Mukunda is talking about leaders who matter on a larger scale—those that matter to all of us. What would have happened if someone else had filled the same role. “Leader impact can best be thought of as the marginal difference between what actually happened and what would have happened if the most likely alternative leader had come to power….Will he or she make significantly different choices than the other plausible candidates.”

It gets down to how we choose our leaders and how we advance people through an organization. This process, Mukunda calls the Leader Filtration Process (LFP). A given LFP will filter candidates through a process designed to find those who conform to a specific value system—a Modal or standard leader. Occasionally an Extreme candidate will slip through. Many organizations weed out potential Extremes. The military’s promotion system is an example of a tight filtration process. At the other extreme, entrepreneurship is a very loose process—you become an entrepreneur just by deciding to do it.

EXTREME LEADERS

A leader that has bypassed an LFP is likely to be an Extreme. Charisma helps leaders bypass filtration. “Family connections, personal wealth, and celebrity, for example, all smooth the path to power without subjecting candidates to the risk of being Filtered out by the LFP.”

Modal leaders can be highly successful under normal conditions. They are good at maintaining the status quo. I would associate management with Modal leaders. Extremes, on the other hand, are all about innovation. “Extreme leaders will be much more likely to change the goals their organization or state is pursuing and to adopt means to achieve those goals that other leaders would not—that’s why they have such marked impact compared with other Modals.”

If you are stuck, an Extreme leader may be just what you need. But while Extremes deviate—and that may be a good thing—they are “far more likely than Modals to have dramatic successes and failures.”

“Filtration is supposed to prevent leaders with undesirable characteristics from gaining power.” This is quite understandable. However, “many of those undesirable traits aren’t purely negative—in the right situation, they can be a huge asset.”

What helps make an Extreme great is when they couple their decisions with humility. “The Extreme leader does what others would not do, even when others advise him or her against it. To make this sort of choice when the stakes are high takes enormous confidence. Sometimes, however, the Extreme’s advisers will be right. When that is true, the great Extreme leader will have the humility to defer to their judgment. It is this almost paradoxical combination of self-confidence and humility that marks the transcendentaly great leader.”

Mukunda’s Leader Filtration Theory has implications as to how and when we choose certain types of leaders to lead us. He recommends that if you are a Filtered leader that you bring a few Extremes into your inner circle.

* * *

Like us on Facebook for additional leadership and personal development ideas.

* * *



Posted by Michael McKinney at 05:11 PM
| Comments (3) | TrackBacks (0) | General Business , Government , Human Resources , Management



TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.leadershipnow.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.cgi/1121

Comments

Hi, I think I just heard you on a podcast through HBR. It was on extreme leadership. It was fantastic. As a Team Leader of a not-for-profit I found it incredibly helpful especially the succession planning which I am in the middle of right now.
I start of blog and podcast called "Team Leaders Circle" through iTunes this year to support young leaders. I would like to put a link to your site on my TLC blog, I hope that's OK. I will also review this article on this weeks blog.

Main point for now is to say thank you for your input.

Dave

I like this concept of the Leader Filtration Process. I experience many companies using competency frameworks to recruit, select, and develop their leaders. Unfortunately, this results in the company having leaders who are essentially the same. Trying to demonstrate the range of competencies the leaders become grey and they lose their extremes - their authenticity.

We need the authentic characters back in companies, but we should still filter out the narcissists and sociopaths.

While the Leader Filtration Process may work in business, I think it is killing us in politics. I think the process in politics is so extreme that we end up with leaders who don't have concrete visions. It's too easy to pick on people with concrete visions, especially when they might change their minds from time to time. As a result we get watered down candidates who don't say much that is controversial.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)






Copyright ©1998-2012 LeadershipNow / M2 Communications All Rights Reserved
All materials contained in http://www.LeadershipNow.com are protected by copyright and trademark laws and may not be used for any purpose whatsoever other than private, noncommercial viewing purposes. Derivative works and other unauthorized copying or use of stills, video footage, text or graphics is expressly prohibited. LeadershipNow is a trademark of M2 Communications.