We Need Leaders

People don't follow authority. They follow leaders. (Excerpt from Unite The Tribes: Leadership Skills for Technology Managers)

The world needs innovators. We need your brilliance, your inspiration, your vision. Our products could be rock stars. Our service could be the stuff of legends. Our organizations could carve a path into the future, leaving a blazing trail of wondrous achievements in their wake. But that won't happen easily.

Whether it's the overpowering inertia of the status quo that accompanies a lull or the fierce and frenzied competition of a new era in technology, having a good idea is not enough. It never has been. To force your way to the top and drag society, sometimes kicking and screaming, into the light of a new technology, it takes a special kind leadership.

Whether you come from a technical, artistic or manufacturing background, it's not enough to be competent at your craft. Even the best financial and organizational skills are useless without a key ingredient. If you want to succeed in bringing your ideas to life and live long enough to tell the tale, what you need more than anything else is street smarts, an understanding of how the world really works.

When Steve Jobs died, there was a surge in the ongoing debate regarding charismatic leadership versus steady, conservative management. The problem with any such debate is the fundamental premise that one is right and the other wrong. They're both right. They're both wrong. Having a wild eyed lunatic at the helm, no matter how charming, is going to get you all killed. Stick to the tried and true methods and you'll simply wear a deeper rut into the path of the ordinary and unremarkable.

Leadership is about people and nothing else. There are strategies, tactics and the occasional iceberg on the horizon but these are not abstract matters. They are all considerations that require action from humans, be they individuals or groups. We respect authority when we must but we don't follow it. We follow leaders. Are you up to the challenge?

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