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Why Great Leaders Are Hard to Find

February 8, 2015

hbrcoverleaders If there is one thing that CEO’s tell me they are looking for right now its great leaders.

An IBM survey in 2012 stated that companies main focus is technology. With the increase on focus on technology there is an increased need for extraordinary leadership. Leaders who can skillfully maneuver the fast paced change of technology AND have increased agility in leading change and influencing teams to greater results is increasingly hard to find. Why?

In my research and focus groups on what makes a great leader it seems that the skills of what USED to constitute a great leader have not been upgraded.

With the influx of technology there is a whole bunch of leaders using outdated skills – all leaders need to upgrade the leadership OS in order to be a GREAT leader in today’s reality.

What does that mean and what will it take to find the great leaders that are out there?

What it means to upgrade the leadership OS is for leaders to shift the way they think, strategize, innovate and influence others. This requires a plasticity of the brain a rewiring of perspectives and approaches to meet the current reality of multigenerational teams with diverse values and desires.

This ‘great’ leader that is needed is being formed AND is hard to find. Right now these leaders are in modern fast paced organizations where adapting to the people reality is a must because typically these are technological industry companies. Companies like Google did an internal survey that investigated what their existing great leaders were doing and created a list of attributes that all of the leaders within Google could model for the entire company. This was a great approach as the company looked for what was already working within the company and then built replicable models for other leaders to follow.

There are challenges for many leaders in the technological industry because the companies have leaders who are highly skilled in technology and may not have put as high a premium on learning how to be a great leader of people.

For other industries such as manufacturing, automotive, financial that have been around for many decades the leaders may be struggling with adapting to the increasing pace of change and technological innovation and therefore have lost touch with the younger generations that are reporting to them.

The reason great leaders are hard to find is that many companies have not been focused on creating great leaders!

Many organizations have been focused on ‘what’s wrong’ with the existing leaders and through traditional training methods working on ‘fixing’ whats wrong. This is an old fashioned approach and one that does not support the current and future reality of a fast changing workplace.

When organizations place a premium on creating GREAT leaders that’s when we will begin to see a surge in companies keeping their top talent and those great leaders being wooed away by the competition. Often an past model has been to NOT invest in creating great leaders for the very fact that they could be poached and this too is backwards thinking.

If we look at being part of an entire great leadership ecosystem we can look through the lens of creating great leaders and by creating great leaders we attract great leaders. We are contributing great leaders to the global economy and therefore the company brand becomes one of ‘where we create great leaders’.

As mentioned traditional training focuses on ‘fixing’ where as a modern education approach is to build on what’s working and provide perspectives, insights and models that help leaders to completely shift their thinking, their language and their approach to leading people.

The models that I work with that creates sustainable change in leaders that helps them to go from ‘good’ to ‘great’ are based on Ken Wilber’s integral theory models as well as Dr. Donald Epsein’s models based on thirty years of University research on how humans can ‘rewire’ and upgrade their human operating systems.



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