As I wandered the Business/Management section of one of Washington D.C.’s largest bookstores recently, I was struck by the amount of shelf space allocated to this subject. The demand for this “manage, lead and succeed” thematic material is driving a multi-million dollar industry but begs the question — Who is reading this stuff? What are they after? And what difference is it making? What do you think?
One of the titles that caught my eye was “Where have all the leaders gone?” by Lee Iacocca.
One answer to this question comes from the leadership coach Ron Carucci, who feels there is indeed a leadership crisis and that “the crisis of leadership is not about the lack of an ample supply of readers ready to lead. It is rather, about the rapidly growing population of emerging leaders unwilling to tolerate the deteriorating standards of leadership to which they believe they have been subjected.” ( Leadership Divided, 2006).
My experience aligns well with Ron’s. The great leaders of the future are all around us. They are waiting their “time.” They have a freshness and clarity that’s needed. They see opportunities to improve the wastefulness and distastefulness in current systems. It is our privilege to invest in them, then get out of their way. I’m encouraged that they may lead us beyond some of the “look good” posturing that we’re seeing in the sustainability area at the moment. The most effective leaders that I’ve encountered lead by serving, not by dominating. They have a security, a positive self-image and a sense of self worth that is not threatened by the ability and success of others. I’m aligned with the optimistic view that people read to improve themselves and people around them. Get to a bookstore this weekend. Buy a book that will challenge your leadership paradigm, read it, share with a colleague then discuss it over coffee.