Favorite HBR "Imagining the Future of Leadership" Post #2 (Leadership is not Golf)

Jan 26, 2011

Herminia Ibarra says becoming a leader is not like improving your golf swing. The crux of her argument is that when we develop or practice a set of leadership skills, we ignore the ways situations change leaders and change the tools leaders have to work with. In other words, there's not reason to suspect that the putter that worked on the last hole will work on the next one, even if you use it in exactly the same way.

Instead, she argues, people who made successful transitions to broader, more significant leadership roles we helped along by the following:

  • Motivating the transition – paying attention to who leads well and aspiring to become thier peer
  • Making "competencies" come alive. In other words, focus on tacit knowledge – through peer groups and communities of practice – not just tick-boxes that contain narrow sets of skills.
  • Experimenting with leadership roles outside the organization – by volunteering for leadership positions with volunteer or professional associations – and bringing new practices into the workplace.
  • Building external support networks among people who are close enough to provide a base of support, but distant enough to offer new ideas.

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