What Makes Your Company's Leader Special?

Companies spend huge bucks on leadership development, only to get lukewarm results. Why? They rely on leadership competency models identifying generic traits (vision, direction, energy), then develop leaders who fit the model. Result? Vanilla executives who aren't equipped to manage their firm's unique challenges.

There's a better way: Build a shared identity among your company's leaders that differentiates what they can do from what rivals' leaders can do. First articulate what you want your firm to be known for by your best customers. Then link those qualities to specific managerial traits. For example, Wal-Mart wants to be known for its everyday low prices. So it develops frugal managers who drive a hard bargain.

Today's Management Tip of the Day was adapted from the HBR article, "Building a Leadership Brand," by Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood.

By washingtonpost.com Editors  |  July 22, 2008; 8:00 AM ET  | Category:  Management Tip of the Day
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I dunno, I think that hypocrisy, the disconnect with those of us who actually do the work, and MBAs make them plenty special.

Posted by: notehuonteuho | July 22, 2008 10:31 AM

"Leadership" is a modern myth. The label is usually applied to those who, by socio-economic status, are legitimized by their peers to assume a ruling position. "Leader" takes the place in the vernacular of "King," "Prince," etc. Without this form of legitimization, the society would never accept their authority. Without this form of authority, these persons would have to resort to rule by force.

Posted by: L.Kurt Engelhart | July 22, 2008 1:00 PM

There is a difference between "Leadership" and "Leader". Leader is a position and all of your anti-authority rhetoric may apply here, but "Leadership", is just an influencing process towards a common goal. You don't have to be 'the leader' to provide leadership. You can influence your boss, or a coworker at your same level and that is providing leadership.

The absense of leadership is tangible. If you have ever been in a group or on a team were no one stepped up and provided leadership, then you would know that this is a legitmate work topic and not some political philosophy topic. Having leadership makes a difference in effectiveness, efficiency and results.

Posted by: jjsaluki | July 23, 2008 12:08 PM

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