– The Practice of Leadership
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First Class Assignment
(a) From your perspective, what are the two most intriguing things that you learned about leadership that were presented in the “ Introduction to the Revised Edition?” The two most intriguing things I have learnt form the revised edition introduction is that leaders have to be adaptive and that they have to encourage constructive dissent . Leaders have to master the context in which their organization operates. This task has become more important and difficult over time due to the faster transformation of the world, technologically, politically and economically. The capacity to adapt allows leaders to respond quickly and intelligently to those constant changes, and to be able to manage uncertainty without necessarily having predefined tools.
It also means being capable to identify opportunities and risks ahead of time and without clear and structured data. Another characteristic of leaders is to be able to listen and accept uncomfortable but constructive truth. This means seeing dissenters as a valuable resource, that challenge the leader and make him think about and potentially reevaluate its decisions. It allows him to increase the spectrum of point of views and thus to better evaluate risks and opportunities of its decisions. Finally, it also valorizes the capabilities and ideas of its colleagues and collaborators, and in doing so motivates them.
(b) Consider what you learned about self-awareness in the “ Introduction to the Original Edition.” What is the single most important thing that you learned? Make note of anything surprising, interesting or worthy of further articulation.
One thing that I found really interesting in the original introduction was the idea that you can become leader by learning and experience, and that you are not necessarily born as leader. Everyone has the capacity for leadership, it is the specific situation and experience that make you become or act as leader. This contradicts the myth of the “ natural born leader”.
(c) In Chapter 2, Bennis debunks a common leadership myth when he says, “ True leaders are not born, but made, and usually self-made…” Consider other well-known leadership myths and speculate about how these myths might be influencing the practice of leadership. One leadership myth is that leadership can be taught as a skill. I think that companies started understanding that this is not true and are deeply changing their leadership programs. Today a leadership program lasts from 2 to 4 years and is very much experienced based. People taking part in this programs are assigned in a rotating mode to new challenging and stretching roles and are supervised by mentors. The idea behind this is that one become leader through its own experience and insight. Mentors can than provide guidance and function as a role model for leadership.