What are the elements of this alloy we call "leadership"? Certainly, they include vision and integrity, perseverance and courage, a hunger for innovation, and a willingness to take risks. But in building their list of the top business leaders of the past century, Harvard Business School professors Anthony J. Mayo and Nitin Nohria have unearthed an immutable attribute that's shared by all of the giants of business: They had an innate ability to read the forces that shaped the times in which they lived -- and to seize on the resulting opportunities.The article continues to identify three types of leaders: the entreprenuer, the manager, and the charismatic leader. I particular I found the story of C W Post enlightening. I grew up eating some Post cereals. I did not know the connection.
... Post's real genius lay in his ability to sense that a new, national consumer was emerging in America. He saw that as the nation was becoming increasingly industrialized -- as women entered the workforce and families spent more time on the job -- time itself was becoming increasingly valuable. People were willing to pay for convenience.
Post also seized on publications such as Ladies' Home Journal. They were perceived as credible purveyors of information, and Post used them to reach this new national consumer. He started off selling door-to-door, but he used changing demographics and social mores to launch a product that was nationally distributed, nationally advertised, and nationally consumed. He was one of the first to recognize the power of a national brand.
An entrepreneurial leader's genius lies in bringing things together in a combination that no one has ever seen before. Post was one of this country's great business visionaries, but he failed at the managerial act -- which is to build a system in the organization that routinizes the entrepreneur's creation.
Read more about Post here.
With the disaster caused by Katrina, it will be interesting to see leaders develop. If there is one thing a crisis will do, it will make or break a leader. Who will step forward and execute to help the recovery?
Time will tell.
I hope and pray for those displaced that the time it takes is not too long!