Thursday, November 22, 2007

Great Leaders overcome Blindspots

“Leaders who are so successful can sometimes become too complacent and fail to see changes around them.”

Just the other day I came across an article in Business Week written by by Henry S. Givray "When CEOs Aren't Leaders" Givray writes that the terms "CEO" and "leader" have mistakenly become synonymous. Stating, nothing could be further from the truth. He goes onto described how CEOs are measured by quantitative results, and Leaders are shaped and defined by character. His distinction between the CEO who is expected to boost sales, improve profit margins, and make money for shareholders. Whereas the Leaders role is to inspire and enable others to do excellent work and realize their potential. As a result, they build successful, enduring organizations.

After reading "When CEOs Aren't Leaders" it made me think about Benjamin Gilad in "Business Blindspots" -- Denial, failure, or refusal to see reality are the biggest problems companies face. And how these problems wrecked IBM, Digital, General Motors, Sears, Hoffman-La Roche, Schwinn, American Express, Tandy, Citibank, Xerox, Kodak, etc.

Jack Welch, General Electric's CEO, once defined management as the task of "staring reality straight in the eye" and then having the courage to act. This is much easier said than done. There are two basic problems with this definition. First, management must be close enough to reality to stare it in the eye. Second, it must not only stare but also see what is in front of its face. This is a tall order. The reason why No.1 top management, through no fault of its own, is never close enough to the market. No.2 some top executives can't see competitive reality staring at them because of 'blindspots'

Many top managers face change only when it hits them in the head, then its too late. $64 billion answer is the people who are in touch with their people at ground level are facing reality, even when they stare straight at it. Nobody expects a CEO to be able to do everything. But you have to be able to recognize your blind spots and delegate someone else to manage. There is an old saying, "A good company has many leaders, a great company has but 3"

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