Fareed Zakaria, The Global Public Square & Lessons on Leadership

Mar 14, 2011

How to Lead.

Last December, Fareed Zakaria hosted five well-known leaders in conversation about leadership:

  • Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister on how he steered
    a nation 
  • Lou Gerstner, who has taken some American
    corporate icons from the brink of bankruptcy to billions in profits, on
    leading through crisis.
  • Former Governor of the NJ Christie
    on how a woman can lead in world that is often still
  • Rick Levin, the President of Yale
    University, on leading by persuasion.
  • Admiral Mike Mullen,
    Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on not just how to lead, but how
    to command.

These leaders offered observations and insights that workforce leaders will find familiar:

  • "It's hard to find the time for stategic thought" (even as it matters more than ever)...
  • "Getting policy right is the toughest thing"...(big complex systems in a fast-changing world make this hard...reform isn't temporary, it's constant, it's the point)...
  • "Leadership is all about change...you don't need a leader to administer something that's going well."
  • "Leadership begins with creating a sense fo urgency...a purpose...it's about communication, it's about honesty...it's about treating people like people."
  • Alignment is the most important part...during change, everything that happens in an organization should be aimed at helping achieve the goals of change. This is systems work and it's hard. You have to understand why people do what they do.
  • "We need a better mix at the table, not just women but minorities as well."
  • "You can't just command...leadership is getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it."
  • "No matter how good a policy is, there will always be people who will be hurt by it...you have to be able to step back."
  • "Common commitment to a shared set of values...if you can draw on that...you can succeed..."
  • In the toughest situations, leadership matters most (and can be found in unexpected places).
  • Leaders must fully understand what they are asking others to do, and be accountable for it.
  • Listening, learning, and leading are all part of the same process.

These leaders offered divergent opinions on a number of issues, but agreed on the importance of tapping into shared concerns to create a vision that must be communicated early, often, and over and over again.

Fareed's introduction of the questions he's exploring and the lenses through which he examines leadership is a helpful navigational device.

How to Use This Resource

We shared these videos around and watched them independently, and emailed each other with out observations and opinions – but that's before we created EnhancingWorkforceLeadership!

If you'd like to engage in a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) leadership lesson, you can view the entire series at one sitting (about 43 minutes), right here.

Individual videos can be viewed here (it's a little tricky to locate - scroll down and look to the right).

Why not share a few with your teams or colleagues?