Gustavo Ballvé on August 1st, 2011
Corporate Strategy, Food for thought, Home, Mental models

Maybe it’s not a coincidence today – the last possible day for it – when it appears that there will finally be an agreement on the US debt ceiling, that we’ve decided to post on Leadership. There was an interesting book review last week in the Financial Times, and it raises the question in this post’s title. “Like other fuzzy concepts such as love and beauty, we need to study leadership even though it is ultimately mysterious. Perhaps the real aim of studying leadership, as with contemplating beauty, is to learn more about ourselves” – nicely put. Yet we seek more actionable ideas and frameworks, and the trap is to select or follow the people who appear to have those skills or come up with the action steps quicker than others – and sometimes there’s just not much substance or they simply apply the same frameworks that once worked or that they’re used to. We’ve discussed this in an April 2009 post called “Is talent overrated?” and on others, listed inside.

London Business School’s Global Leadership Summit 2011 and “Business Leaders – interviews” are two LBS-related posts here on Leadership. The interview format is interesting and they have been known to extract a bit more “personal” opinions and stories from executives.

Carlos Brito is a great example of leadership through incentives and cultural reinforcement, and his talk at Stanford is a must-see. Actually we’re sorry for taking your your time, but you should actually watch all the videos in this post. They’re very good and the results these execs have achieved over the years speak for themselves. Will they always get it right? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean the frameworks and mental models aren’t valuable.

This December 2009 post on “action-oriented entrepreneurs” also raises more questions than it answers, strengthening the “leadership vs. beauty” comparison in the quote above.

In a June 2010 post called Ulysses and Fiscal Responsibility, we highlighted a 1952 managerial training course inside Bell Telephone that sought to open up the minds of high-potential people at Bell. They felt they needed more people capable of leading the company in bottom ladders, and that required a more general formation. One of the tasks was to read and discuss James Joyce’s Ulysses.

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