Spring EO Retreat: Are We Prepared to be Great Leaders?

Posted on August 5, 2015 in Viewpoints by admin

“I have learned that nothing is certain except for the need to have strong risk management, a lot of cash, the willingness to invest even when the future is unclear, and great people.”

– Jeffrey R. Immelt, CEO of GE

_L2A4529It is a rare leader who hasn’t at some point asked, in the words of the musician David Byrne, “How did I get here?” And perhaps as a follow-up, “What do I do about it?”

It’s assumed that if one works diligently, takes appropriate risks, is relatively smart and somewhat fortunate, one will be rewarded with a leadership role…and yet, leadership is not a reward—it is a profoundly difficult and demanding pursuit in of itself, with no absolute guarantee or formula for success. Just having a leadership title, doesn’t mean you can lead.

Too often, leadership jobs are given to people purely based not on their leadership skills, but on their skills in other areas—say as an analyst, an asset manager, or in acquisitions. As an added challenge, the job description for “leader” is ephemeral at best, with little precise definition of the skills and behaviors required.

There are certainly plenty of experts who explain the secrets to leadership. Politicians, philosophers, military leaders, spiritual guides, and CEO’s all have their particular insights about what makes good leadership happen—whether it’s strength of character, confidence, vision, open-mindedness, ability to listen, charisma, empathy, or will-to- power, there is some wise figure somewhere telling us what we should or shouldn’t do if we are to become a successful leader…

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