I teach leadership at several universities in the executive education area, and I was recently at one of those schools and was very surprised when I picked up a document used by a prestigious, well-published, full-time faculty member titled: Attributes of a Great Leader. Highest on the list of attributes were teamwork, consensus, diversity, respect for others, social responsibility, reflective listening, and tolerance for ambiguity. Toward the end of the list were the attributes of decision-making and strategic thinking.
In describing strategic thinking they made the statement “strategic leadership focuses an organization on the strategies that stimulate excellent long-term performance in both social responsibility and financial outcomes.
In my estimation, this university is smothering its students with political correctness. They are failing to make it clear that without aggressive, innovative strategies that clearly move you ahead of your competition, I will guarantee you the organization is going to be in for disappointment.
The last 15-20 years are full of once-great organizations that either went bankrupt or are currently being driven toward bankruptcy. Some examples are Kodak, General Motors, RIM, and Nokia. All of these firms were, at one juncture of their life, at the apex of their industry. On the other hand, over the last several years, they all suffered from lack of a strategy to keep ahead of technology and customer trends.
There is one key leadership lesson here: constantly analyze your markets, your customers, technology trends, and your current strategies to make sure that at every juncture, you are on a path that leads you to further success. Don’t fall into the trap of putting as first priority the latest flavor of political correctness; be it teams and consensus, social responsibility, the environment, etc. You need to pay attention to those things but if you miss the boat on a winning strategy all of your political correctness will not make up for it.