Consultants can get caught in a number of traps, mostly of their own devising. Since so much of good consulting involves understanding where leadership opinion is divided, building alignment where possible, and developing momentum behind an action plan, one trap is to get very focused on what others think, and not really develop a distinctive point of view. Clients call this trap ‘borrowing your watch to tell you what time it is.’
The opposite of course is also a trap – the consultant who has the same strong opinion, no matter what others may think (known as ‘if he wants your opinion, he’ll tell it to you’).
A mentor of mine described the middle way here somewhat cryptically as ‘clients want somebody who knows something about something’ and I’ve found there is a lot of truth in that.
Hence a section here describing my point of view – Adair on Leadership. First a few selected Past Articles and Interviews that have stood the test of time; then an active conversation in my blog about the range of leadership topics encountered in my work — taken together, my ‘lessons learned’ over time.
These are partnered by a personalized collection of articles by others: the ‘classics‘ and the ‘new classics.‘ Most business books are better as articles — have you noticed that? — so the focus here is on the short form. A few are strong enough to warrant book length, and so I conclude this section with a short list of recommended books to read.
A footnote on the topic of the vast leadership literature. There’s too much of it! How can one possibly sort through 153M Google hits on leadership, 38M on executive leadership, or 36M on leadership development? You can’t, but thankfully you don’t need to.
Leadership, like strategy, is a ‘wicked problem,’ one of those challenges with no objectively verifiable ‘right’ answer, where the search for solutions never stops. [See ‘Strategy As A Wicked Problem‘.] ‘What is leadership?’ and ‘what makes a good leader?’ can take you all week to answer, and you still could be miles away from the answers posed by other equally erudite observers.
As a leader, therefore, you need to join the endless search to find what works for you, test it out and see what results you get. Get grounded here in one man’s point of view, and continue with building your own. It Tolls For Thee provides a few closing thoughts about the context for leadership in the 21st Century, things to carry with you on the journey.