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抛开迷思,寻找真正的商业领袖

Eleanor Bloxham 2011年10月19日

如果继续用过时的眼光来看待领导力和权力,我们根本无法走出经济困境,等待我们的依然会是失望和沮丧。

    看着美国日益衰落的竞争力和疲软的就业市场,人们不禁会问:“我们需要的商业领袖都在哪儿?”

    但我们不妨停下来认真思考几个问题:我们缺乏的究竟是领导力还是对领导力的正确定义?也许,我们寻找领导力的方向从一开始就发生了偏差。

    权力、影响力与领导力之间有着千丝万缕的联系。而许多人依然在用一种过时的眼光看待权力。他们认为,谁控制了最多的人力和财力,谁就拥有强大的权力:等级成了领导力和权力的代名词。

    但事实并非如此。虽然董事会在公司等级中高高在上,但它所起的作用通常微乎其微。而董事会成员常常感觉自己没有享有权力,无法根据自己的意愿对公司进行改革。

    许多CEO也是如此。有些CEO缺乏安全感,通常需要进行自我激励。而有些CEO之所以能够爬上高位,只是因为他们认为这是他们的“宿命”——他们就像演员一样严格遵照剧本行事,完全失去了真正的自我。

    他们的软弱无力通常表现在许多方面:大发脾气;解决难题时总是拈轻怕重;忽视重要问题,逃避责任等等。

    展示最高尚的自我才是体现领导力的真正所在:真正重要的并不是对人力或财富的支配权,而是表达出真正的自我。当然,许多大公司的CEO确实是强有力的、高效的领袖,但这与他们的等级没有太大的关系。通常情况下,等级并不等同于权力。

    我们都曾经与这样的人共事:在公司里,他们并不属于高高在上的阶层,但却拥有巨大的影响力,即便有时是负面的影响。他们也许会利用权力的消极一面,试图使优秀的行动方案陷入停滞,而且往往都能够得逞。他们可能隐居幕后,甚至会暗中破坏团队的努力。

    然而,也有些人在默默努力,为公司的良性发展发挥着巨大的作用。这些领导者就在你的周围 —— 可能就是你自己。他们默默无闻,甚至无人能识。

    《爱乔布斯——改变世界的方法》(The Steve Jobs Way: iLeadership for a New Generation)一书的作者杰伊•艾略特曾在苹果公司(Apple)担任高级副总裁,是乔布斯的亲密战友,近期他对笔者表示,他从乔布斯身上学到的最伟大的领导力课程就是:做自己。

    显然,全世界对领导力和权力的理解都存在偏差,所以“做自己”并不容易。我们正在经历的经济危机之所以持续恶化,很大程度上正是由于那些真正的领导者无法掌握资本,致使他们的创见无法实现。

    但掌握资本或者控制他人都不应该与真正的领导力相混淆。这种理念之所以能够被人们所重视,一定程度上得归功于普渡大学区域发展中心(Purdue Center for Regional Development)经济政策顾问艾迪•莫里森以及其他人的不懈努力。佛罗里达州的空间集中发展项目、亚利桑那州的太阳能集中发展项目,以及密歇根州的Holland-Zee行动计划等都显示出同一特点:许多领导人不论身处什么等级,都在努力为所在的社区建立稳定的经济。

    他们的权力并非来自等级或头衔,而是来自他们的智慧和毅力。这种模式类似于以群体面貌出现的福特或爱迪生,一旦得到机会,这种模式将会把我们带入更美好的经济时代。这种领导力模式与已退休的杰克•查恩将军的想法不谋而合。他曾在多家公司董事会任职,并曾担任美国空军战略司令部(Strategic Air Command)领导人。他认为,具有人格魅力的人数不胜数,但一个人能否成为伟大领袖的关键却在于智慧。

    除了集体努力,我们也发现,很多人也开始接受新的领导力定义;有些人正在有意识地避开等级,开创属于自己的想法,这其中既有年轻人,也不乏资深的职场人士。

    如果我们依然迷信传统的领导力与权力定义,我们的经济根本不可能好转,等待我们的将依然是失望和沮丧。我们将错失就在我们身边的领导者,我们自己也会错误地追求一些虚幻的头衔,而不是真正有实际影响和意义的岗位。希望我们不要在等到付出代价之后才能幡然醒悟。

    本文作者爱丽诺•布洛斯罕为董事会咨询公司价值联盟与公司治理联盟(The Value Alliance and Corporate Governance Alliance,http://thevaluealliance.com)CEO。

    译者:阿龙/汪皓

    As we look at declining U.S. competitiveness and stalled job creation, it's all too understandable to ask, "Where are the business leaders we need?"

    But if we stop to think about it, is it leadership that is lacking? Or is it our definition of leadership that is lacking? Maybe we are simply looking for leadership in the wrong places.

    Power, influence and leadership are all tied to each other. And many people view power from an outdated perspective. That older perspective argues that whoever controls the most people and the most dollars is powerful: Rank spells leadership and power.

    But this is not true. Corporate boards, which sit at the top of a company's hierarchy, often act anemically. And board members often feel they do not have power to make the changes they'd like to make.

    So too with many CEOs. Some are insecure, in need of an ego massage. Others have made it to the "top" because they felt they were "supposed to" -- they were following a script and lost their true sense of self.

    Their powerlessness shows up in many ways: throwing tantrums, taking the easy route when addressing difficult problems, ignoring major issues, and failing to act responsibly.

    Real leadership is the courage to act from your highest and noblest self: it is not dominion over people or dollars but expressing who you are that matters. Certainly, there are large company CEOs that are powerful, effective leaders, but it is not their rank that makes them so. Rank is often not synonymous with power.

    We have all worked with colleagues who have tremendous influence, even if it is negative, despite the fact that they do not sit anywhere high up in the company's hierarchy. They can work on the negative side of power, trying to -- and succeeding -- in stalling any good initiative that comes along. They may work in the background and may even undermine our own efforts.

    But then there are also others who work silently and make big differences for the good. These leaders sit beside you -- they may even be you. And no one has heard of them or really knows.

    Jay Elliot, author of The Steve Jobs Way: iLeadership for a New Generation, who worked closely with Jobs at Apple (AAPL) as a senior vice president, recently told me that the greatest leadership lesson he learned from Jobs was to be yourself.

    "Being yourself" can be far from easy in a world that clings to an obviously failing notion of leadership and power. And the current economic crisis that we face today persists in part because those who are real leaders often do not have access to capital to fund their innovative ideas.

    But access to capital or perceived control over people should never be confused with real leadership. Some of this has come to the forefront through the efforts of Ed Morrison, economic policy advisor at the Purdue Center for Regional Development, and others. Projects like the space cluster in Florida, the solar cluster in Arizona, and the Holland-Zee initiatives in Michigan show that some leaders, irrespective of rank, are coming together to build economic stability for their communities.

    Their power does not come from rank or title but from intellect and perseverance. That model is more like that of a Ford or an Edison on a collective scale, and that is the model that will, if given a chance, see us through to better economic times. This leadership model resonates with retired General Jack Chain, who sat on a number of corporate boards and, at one time, headed the Strategic Air Command. He said that while you can find many people with great personalities, intellect is what makes for a great leader.

    In addition to the collective efforts, we can also witness individuals embracing a new definition of leadership; young and old making the conscious choice to eschew rank and strike out on their own.

    If we look to the inherited definitions of leadership and power, we will continue to be disappointed and frustrated with our failure to fix the economy. We will miss the leaders in our midst and may ourselves mistakenly aspire to some position rather than a true place of influence and meaning. Let's hope that we won't have to learn this lesson the hard way.

    Eleanor Bloxham is CEO of The Value Alliance and Corporate Governance Alliance (http://thevaluealliance.com), a board advisory firm.

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