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How does business select its leaders?

Written by on 13 September 2010

Much has been reported about the remuneration of our top business leaders, but have you ever wondered how they get selected?

Technically competent, self-driven, self-promoting!

Most of our corporate senior executives have an impressive track record of delivering functional excellence. Most top management have been extremely successful in their chosen field of expertise. This success is often measured by financial return and the proportioning of credit to their own individual contribution. Its understandable that many businesses adopt a culture and a reward structure that recognises and support this as a sign of success.

Does technical competence make you a good leader?

An individual may be excellent at delivering financial return, however, does this mean they are great at replicating this in others? A great number of business leaders occupy positions of authority and exercise executive power with little experience of leadership.

What is leadership?

There are many definitions of leadership, yet I think a useful way of thinking about leadership is the ability for an individual to get people to follow them. The ability to get people to follow you is more than the function of working for financial return - individuals must be convinced of the leaders motivation and character.

Consistency – a test of character!

Being a leader is a difficult role. He/she must occupy a space that is often challenging, full of ambiguity and temptation. Often, the decisions that a leader faces can be confusing and conflicting, and information may be limited and time short. Making a decision is not the difficult issue, making the right decision is the hard part. The challenges facing a leader will test and reveal their true character, and what they fundamentally believe is right, how they value success and what they think is worthwhile!

Spend some time thinking about your leaders

Leaders are incredible influential in producing sustainable success within any group. As change and complexity is becoming an everyday aspect of the business context, it is worthwhile thinking about what kind of leaders businesses require in the challenging environment. If businesses identify human capital as a key to success and organisational renewal, should we also think about what kind of leaders can accomplish engagement and conviction for this asset? if we accept this premise, it is unlikely that the key to success will be found in an individual who has been solely selected for their technical skills!

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