Every Sunday the NY Times runs an interview of a business leader called Corner Office. The questions are about leadership, hiring, and career advice. The answers are usually insightful. For example, this past Sunday George S. Barrett was the interviewee. He’s from Cardinal Health – the Chairman and CEO to be exact. Adam Bryant asked a question about Leadership and got a response I wholeheartedly agree with. Leadership is essentially about particular characteristics and how they are conveyed. He sums it up well below:
Q. What’s your philosophy of leadership?
A. Articulating it in a single sound bite is hard for me, but I’d say this. I do think leadership is largely about trust, and trust has a couple of dimensions. It starts with competence. People have to believe that you really know what you’re doing. They have to really trust in your judgment because the data is so complex out there that they have to believe you can see through all the silliness and have some sense of the right course.
People have to trust that you have a point of view about what this enterprise is going to look like. What do we seek to be? And they have to trust that you understand them, that you get them. Not necessarily that you know them personally, but you understand what it’s all about to work here and that you have their interests at heart. I think that when you can do those things, it can be a powerful combination.
I think people sometimes equate leadership with charisma and decisiveness. I think those are powerful tools, and I hope I have both,but they’re not to be confused with leadership. I know a lot of very charismatic people who lack judgment and competence, and they’re not great leaders. They’re just fun to be around. And I know some very decisive people who lack judgment, which is terrifying.
Also, I think a leader has to be comfortable with having the weight on their shoulders. And that’s not for everybody. It can be hard, and it’s a different experience if you haven’t had to experience this. That’s not for everybody, but I like it because I don’t feel like I’m alone. I windup bringing the group together, and we own the weight. I love that part of it.
I also believe that leadership is a two-way street. I tell my team, “I expect to learn from you as well as you’ll learn from me.”
Working Thoughts 8/17/07 (this is a seminal belief of this blog)
At What Point Does It Stop Being Education?
Working Thoughts 8/17/09
Job Losses and the Self Employed