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Do you work for a dysfunctional autocrat or an inspiring leader?

Anthony Williams  04-08-2014

Hundreds of books, articles and case studies have been written on leadership in business – but most are written by people, who neither held penultimate leadership roles (i.e., CEOs) nor worked for any truly iconic leaders. So, it isn’t surprising that leadership is a much talked about topic, yet misunderstood by many.

The authors of this post have worked many years for people who actually led their companies from the start-up state to world beating organisations. These leaders include: Richard Branson of Virgin, Larry Ellison of Oracle, Steve Jobs of Apple, John Reed of Citicrop, Sandy Weill of Citigroup and Jack Welch of GE. The authors have also consulted over 100 companies, some of them are SMEs and new start-ups, and came across people who are aspired to lead. Here the authors have identified 15 key traits that distinguish an inspiring leader from a dysfunctional autocrat.

Leader

Dysfunctional Autocrat

Direct

Double speak

Ethical

Self-serving

Inspire

Instruct

Visionary

Follower

Trustworthy

Shifty

Decisive

Uncertain

Honest

Deceptive

Emotionally intelligent

Insensitive

Giving

Greedy

Confident

Insecure

Learner

Know it all

Listener

Lecture

Open

Secretive

Warm

Manipulative

Down to earth

Control freak

Dysfunctional autocrats are commonly found in small privately held businesses, who follow practices and procedures from their previous jobs to respond to the changes in the marketplace.They attempt to lead by intimidation, bossing people around, patronising and manipulating – in short, they behave like a bully – and, only the weak follow bullies. At best they get the job done in short-term, make some money only for themselves and move on to the next opportunity. But, most commonly they ruin their companies along with the careers of people who came to work for their companies.

Leaders, by contrast, cope with changes in the market place. In fact, many iconic leaders don’t wait for changes in the marketplace; they initiate changes in the marketplace.  They achieve their vision by motivating and inspiring people around them, moving them in the right direction by appealing to basic but often untapped human needs, values and emotions.

True leaders are very rare to find - now that you know a true leader from a dysfunctional autocrat – ask yourself: who do I work for?

 

Authors: Anthony Williams, David J. Evans and Dr Gina Sum. The authors would like to thank Sukhendu Pal for his contribution to the development of this post.

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