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Here are three things boards and CEOs can do together to stop spiral of doom.
(1) Be aware of crucial differences between autocratic leadership and new leadership. It's easy to spot autocratic leaders. They come with a "my-way-or-the-highway" attitude. They're long on order-giving and short on listening, great at micro-managing and poor at motivation, great at caring for company's results and poor at promoting welfare of people who must achieve those results.
The new leaders, on other hand, ask a lot of questions. They consult with people rather than command them. They have a passion not only for achieving results but for promoting well-being of people who must achieve results. They listen well. They have courage to allow others to fail. They challenge people to be better than they think they can be. They are continually enhancing leadership skills of others. And they understand that rewards and punishments are lowest forms of leadership.
(2) By all means, don't hire autocrats. Select CEOs who are skilled in new leadership. This means taking great pains in interview process to have candidates talk about their leadership philosophy, ways they have manifested that philosophy, and ways they intend to manifest it as a CEO.
(3) Continually monitor and evaluate CEOs on how they're carrying out new leadership activities. Boards and CEOs must put into place comprehensive and systematic leadership processes. They must hold themselves accountable for those processes. Board meetings must be consistently devoted to leadership issues. When CEOs report to boards on state of company, they must also report on "state of leadership" -- showing how leadership is getting results and how leadership capabilities and responsibilities of their senior leaders, middle managers and small-unit leaders are being constantly upgraded.
Autocratic CEOs are maestros at getting wrong results or right results in wrong ways. Boards who bring them on buy a ticket to ride on spiral of doom.
The time is now for boards and CEOs to get off ride and bring in CEOs who recognize that best leadership is not about what leaders do to people but what they do with people.
2005 © The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
The author of 23 books, Brent Filson's recent books are, THE LEADERSHIP TALK: THE GREATEST LEADERSHIP TOOL and 101 WAYS TO GIVE GREAT LEADERSHIP TALKS. He has been helping leaders of top companies worldwide get audacious results. Sign up for his free leadership e-zine and get a free white paper: "49 Ways To Turn Action Into Results," at www.actionleadership.com