Skip to main content

How Successful Leaders Think



How Successful Leaders Think
By Roger Martin
 
We are drawn to the stories of effective leaders in action. Their decisiveness invigorates us. The events that unfold from their bold moves, often culminating in successful outcomes, make for gripping narratives. Perhaps most important, we turn to accounts of their deeds for lessons that we can apply in our own careers. Books like Jack: Straight from the Gut and Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done are compelling in part because they implicitly promise that we can achieve the success of a Jack Welch or a Larry Bossidy—if only we learn to emulate his actions.
But this focus on what a leader does is misplaced. That’s because moves that work in one context often make little sense in another, even at the same company or within the experience of a single leader. Recall that Jack Welch, early in his career at General Electric, insisted that each of GE’s businesses be number one or number two in market share in its industry; years later he insisted that those same businesses define their markets so that their share was no greater than 10%, thereby forcing managers to look for opportunities beyond the confines of a narrowly conceived market. Trying to learn from what Jack Welch did invites confusion and incoherence, because he pursued—wisely, I might add—diametrically opposed courses at different points in his career and in GE’s history.
So where do we look for lessons? A more productive, though more difficult, approach is to focus on how a leader thinks—that is, to examine the antecedent of doing, or the ways in which leaders’ cognitive processes produce their actions.
I have spent the past 15 years, first as a management consultant and now as the dean of a business school, studying leaders with exemplary records. Over the past six years, I have interviewed more than 50 such leaders, some for as long as eight hours, and found that most of them share a somewhat unusual trait: They have the predisposition and the capacity to hold in their heads two opposing ideas at once. And then, without panicking or simply settling for one alternative or the other, they’re able to creatively resolve the tension between those two ideas by generating a new one that contains elements of the others but is superior to both. This process of consideration and synthesis can be termed integrative thinking. It is this discipline—not superior strategy or faultless execution—that is a defining characteristic of most exceptional businesses and the people who run them.
I don’t claim that this is a new idea. More than 60 years ago, F. Scott Fitzgerald saw “the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function” as the sign of a truly intelligent individual. And certainly not every good leader exhibits this capability, nor is it the sole source of success for those who do. But it is clear to me that integrative thinking tremendously improves people’s odds.
This insight is easy to miss, though, since the management conversation in recent years has tilted away from thinking and toward doing (witness the popularity of books like Execution). Also, many great integrative thinkers aren’t even aware of their particular capability and thus don’t consciously exercise it. Take Jack Welch, who is among the executives I have interviewed: He is clearly a consummate integrative thinker—but you’d never know it from reading his books.
Indeed, my aim in this article is to deconstruct and describe a capability that seems to come naturally to many successful leaders. To illustrate the concept, I’ll concentrate on an executive I talked with at length: Bob Young, the colorful cofounder and former CEO of Red Hat, the dominant distributor of Linux open-source software. The assumption underlying my examination of his and others’ integrative thinking is this: It isn’t just an ability you’re born with—it’s something you can hone.
Opposable Thumb, Opposable Mind
In the mid-1990s, Red Hat faced what seemed like two alternative paths to growth. At the time, the company sold packaged versions of Linux open-source software, mainly to computer geeks, periodically bundling together new versions that included the latest upgrades from countless independent developers. As Red Hat looked to grow beyond its $1 million in annual sales, it could have chosen one of the two basic business models in the software industry.
Taken from
http://hbr.org/2007/06/how-successful-leaders-think

Popular posts from this blog

Overview of Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing refers to the process of gaining traffic or attention through social media sites. Social media itself is a catch-all term for sites that may provide radically different social actions.

Use social media marketing to listen, analyze, publish, and engage across networks. Align your marketing, customer service, and sales efforts on social — strengthening customer relationships.


Listen and analyze. Hear conversations from over 650 million different sources with social listening tools. Discover what consumers are saying about your brand, your products, and your competitors. Discover trending topics and influential conversations — then use that information to inform your marketing decisions.
Plan and publish. Plan, execute, and track social media marketing campaigns. Customize and craft your content from multiple sources, while protecting your brand with configurable approval rules and a full audit trail. Manage social strategy, tailor campaigns, and drive social awareness…

Future Of Digital Marketing

The Origin of Digital-Marketing: The term 'digital marketing' was first used in the 1990s. In the 2000s and the 2010s, digital marketing became more sophisticated as an effective way to create a relationship with the consumer that has depth and
relevance. 
While the term 'digital marketing' may not have been used until the 1990s, digital marketing itself has roots to the mid-1980s when the Soft Ad Group, now ChannelNet developed advertising campaigns for several major automobile companies, wherein people would send in reader reply cards found in magazines and receive in return floppy disks that contained multimedia content promoting various cars and offering free test drives.
The rapid evolution of digital media has created new opportunities and avenues for advertising and marketing. Fueled by the proliferation of devices to access digital media, this has led to the exponential growth of digital advertising.
In 2012 and 2013 statistics showed digital marketing remained a gro…

Why Digital Marketing and Web 2.0 Important To Business?

DIGITAL MARKETING

Digital marketing technology helps you understand and reach your audience most effectively so you can generate the most revenue.  For advertising campaigns, ad serving technology makes it possible to serve the right ad at the right time to right person.  That means your advertising is being as productive as possible. When technology is working for you, you’ll understand your audience at a whole new level, and it will show up on your bottom-line.


NEED FOR THE STUDY The pace of change in today’s business environment is faster than ever. New markets, technologies, and opportunities are arising on a daily basis. Current ways of doing business need to be adapted or they will become outdated. Organizations and enterprises have to become agents of evolution to be successful; as victims of evolution they risk failure. With so many dynamics operating in the global economy, Digital Marketing is now more than ever an effective tool to make a company stand out from the pack.

The pe…