There are times for Management. This is a Time for Leadership.
Over the past few months as a “free-agent,” I have been enjoying the privilege and opportunity to work with, advise and collaborate with multiple organizations in US and India – companies both large and small, venture firms, and most exciting – dedicated entrepreneurial teams that are starting up despite the macro economic malaise. New leadership is emerging and cool things are happening in the nooks and crannies of Silicon Valley and Bangalore.
Here is an observation, distilled from these engagements. Across the board I am seeing a lot of humility. That, I believe, coupled with a sense of urgency and a spirit of collaboration will drive and make the next set of winners. When all business models are suspect, all markets are hurting, there is pessimism at the rank-and-file level and a severe paucity of capital, “managing” alone won’t cut it. What are you managing to? All previous metrics and processes are probably irrelevant. Unless you can get a ground swell of motivation, creativity and collaboration in the whole team – big or tiny, global or housed in a single office – you don’t have a snowball’s chance in Las Vegas. And that, will take “leadership.” It will take thinking both inside the box and outside, simultaneously.
A recent blog posting by Irving Wladawsky-Berger – Leadership in a Time of Crisis – makes for particularly good and relevant reading. A slightly dated post by George Ambler – The Practice of Leadership – is also recommended.
Added February 3, ’09: Reed Hastings, Founder/CEO of Netflix, is one of my heroes, in business. Early during our respective careers (20+ years ago), I had the great fortune of knowing him as a friend, colleague and office mate. Our paths cross very infrequently these days, but there is still much learning that he imparts every time I do see him.
I chanced upon a recent post from him in Fortune and am adding a link here.