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Stories by Deborah Ancona, Thomas W. Malone, Wanda J. Orlikowski, Peter M. Senge

In praise of the incomplete leader

We’ve come to expect a lot of our leaders. Top executives, the thinking goes, should have the intellectual capacity to make sense of unfathomably complex issues, the imaginative powers to paint a vision of the future that generates everyone’s enthusiasm, the operational know-how to translate strategy into concrete plans, and the interpersonal skills to foster commitment to undertakings that could cost people’s jobs should they fail. Unfortunately, no single person can possibly live up to those standards.
It’s time to end the myth of the complete leader: The flawless person at the top who has got it all figured out. In fact, the sooner leaders stop trying to be all things to all people, the better off their organisations will be. In today’s world, the executive’s job is no longer to command and control but to cultivate and coordinate the actions of others at all levels of the organisation. Only when leaders come to see themselves as incomplete - as having both strengths and weaknesses - will they be able to make up for their missing skills by relying on others.

Written by Deborah Ancona, Thomas W. Malone, Wanda J. Orlikowski, Peter M. Senge27 March 07 22:00