About leadership and institutional efficiency (I)

by Tibor Hartel

Recently I enjoyed listening the online lecture about leadership of Stanford University Professor Jerry Porras entitled ‘Leadership and Vision’, based on the famous book ‘Built to last: successful habits of visionary companies’ co-authored with James C. Collins.

What makes some companies enduringly successful and visionary (i.e. ‘gold mine winners’) and why other companies are not that / so successful (i.e. ‘just’ ‘silver medal winners’)? The answer lies in the leadership of these institutions.

Porras distinguish between ‘charismatic visionary leaders’ and ‘built to last leaders’. The first category is able to create great organizations but if they retire the company will never flourish again. This is because they build a company relying on their own brilliance (e.g. Steve Jobs may be such a leader). The ‘built to last leaders’ create enduring organizations which persist long after they are gone. This is because they focused on building the capabilities of the company (e.g. Walt Disney may be such a leader or Motorola started (and continued) with such a leader).

Some features of ‘charismatic visionary leaders’ according to Porras: passionate, powerfully articulate their vision, inspirational, unconventional, personally powerful, charismatic and highly motivated to lead.

Some features of ‘built to last leaders’: soft spoken, gentle, serious, humble, modest, thoughtful, good listener, rather shy and quiet. How can such a person be ‘built to last’?

And is there any other thing which makes an institution successful besides leadership? For example, it seems that companies which were built around a product (as it was 3M) do worse at least in the initial years than those companies who were built by enthusiastic persons in order ‘to do something useful for the world’ (my quote) within the limits of some (few) well defined principles.

Questions for you:

What type of leader would you be? What types of values would you use as foundation when building a working group, institution or organization? How (i.e. based on which criteria) would you ‘select’ people working with you? If you are already a leader: what you think your colleagues think about you?

The next blog entry will be more focused on leadership and conservation.

One thought on “About leadership and institutional efficiency (I)

  1. Pingback: About leadership and institutional efficiency (II): conservation effectiveness | Ideas for Sustainability

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