My blog last week on leadership sparked a lot of interest and I was thrilled when a friend sent me Mike Myatt’s article that was posted on the Forbes website late last year. It is an incredible piece that claims leadership is really all about pursuit. Great leaders are never satisfied with anything and are always looking for ways to make things better. They hate the status quo, even when they appear to be winning. They need to be going after something. They are constantly restless.
Myatt goes on to make the logical point that the pursuit must be after something that is targeted and worth attaining. This is where vision is so important. The pursuit can’t be trivial and should be shared throughout the organization. You must pursue the right things at the right time and for the right reasons. This pursuit needs to be focused, consistent, aggressive and unyielding. Perhaps the picture that comes to my mind from the article would be a big cat going after their prey, recognizing that only if they succeed will their family eat. I would compare that to the dog you see going around in circles chasing their own tail. The pursuit may be just as strong but to what end?
Last week, Doug Dickerson in his blog talked about the recently released annual Hay study that looks at which companies have the best leadership practices. Their survey asked 7,000 people to rate their own company, and then nominate three other companies they admire for their leadership. The results showed that those ranked the best all demonstrated the following leadership traits: develop organizational agility, broaden perspectives, encourage collaboration and leadership drives innovation. The best companies allow all employees to act like leaders. They allow people to go around the “chain of command” and emphasize collaboration. Senior leaders really take time to develop people in their organizations. Dickerson concludes his blog by saying that organizations that show leadership are places of empowerment, possibilities and vision.
I love the view from these two experts on leadership and really can see how they would be appropriate for our industry. The image of the big cat in pursuit needs to perhaps become a little more real for the pharmaceutical world. Take a minute, close your eyes and think about your company as a bunch of tigers or whatever and think about what it is that you are going after. Do you know? Would everyone else in the organization say the same thing? My bet is that if everyone was honest, they would admit they have not really thought about that vision lately or what was actually being pursued. Agree or disagree?
If the Hay Group had called you for the survey, which companies would you have named as the best for leadership and why? How about if they were to just ask about our industry, which would you name other than your own company. Now take a look at the rankings of the top 20 companies and note how few are from our industry. With all the huge things we should be and perhaps are pursuing, we should have much better representation in this survey.
Leadership is a very tricky concept. I have always believed that organizations do want more leaders and fewer people who are just followers. In so many ways, leadership is there for the taking. You become a leader by just starting to act that way. It is very easy to recognize those in an organization that are in pursuit of something and those who appear on the sidelines just watching. In some companies, as the survey would indicate, this is easier to do than in others. For some companies, the vision is just so clear and the rules for the pursuit are obvious. In other companies it may appear more like a scavenger hunt, where it takes a little more ingenuity to be a part of the pursuit.
Leadership and vision work require effort. Take some time to analyze this in your group and make sure everyone knows what is being pursued, why it is being pursued and fully knows how to go about it. If you feel like you are constantly chasing your tail you may not be alone. At some point you do need to stop this and begin to pursue something more meaningful.