The Heroic Leader

Many experts talk about transformational leadership, but I’ve found that doing it effectively is a whole other thing. When I moved into a leadership role—first as an advocate for change and later as a designated leader and manager—I discovered that the most effective leaders I worked with knew themselves well, understood their strengths and weaknesses, and collaborated or delegated to be certain that their team had all the abilities needed to accomplish their goals. I also came to realize that to keep this team singing off the same sheet of music, it was ideal to have a central mission that provided the rhythm and harmony that supported good teamwork.

But the biggest breakthrough for me was coming to recognize that the leadership approaches that worked in one organization could bomb in another, since interventions need to match the culture of the place, be consistent with its values, and be aligned with the aspirations of its stakeholders. I saw that even within higher education, institutional values and customs differed greatly, and my consulting work demonstrated to me how much more this was true in other sectors. From such realizations came Mapping the Organizational Psyche, the IBM® Kenexa® Organizational Cultural Insight Survey (IBM KCIS), and The Transforming Leader, as well as Magic at Work and a now out-of-print discussion of archetypes in organizations soon to be available for free only through this website.

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