I met recently with a senior executive from a Fortune 100 company here in Minneapolis recently. He's been a coach to me over the decades, and he had some interesting things to say about leadership that run contrary to a lot of blogging you see on the subject.
Leadership blogs tend to focus on particular skills that differentiate great leaders.
Take, for example, this otherwise excellent post on famed leadership coach Kim Scott which suggests radical candor as the secret to being a great boss.
Candor is hard to come by, that's for sure. And the truly caring candor she encourages does really make a big difference in making people productive.
Finally, Sheryl said, You know, Kim, I can tell I'm not really getting through to you. I'm going to have to be clearer here. When you say um every third word, it makes you sound stupid.
Makes sense, but is candor the 'secret' to great leadership? If it is, then we should spend huge resources on it. But what will we let go of if we devote those resources? Trips to the gym? Family time? Prayer? Vacation?
I'm reminded of the saying: "I don't know the recipe for success, but I know the recipe for failure. Try to please everybody."
This in essence was my friend's advice on being a great leader. Put the right people in place. Make your relationship with them strong. Manage their performance to objectives.
But don't try to do their job and by all means don't try to be all things to all people.