February 21, 2019

Ian Davis, Former Managing Partner of McKinsey & Company on Leadership

Ian Davis was the former Managing Partner of McKinsey & Company. He shares some insights on leadership skills in your personal and business careers.

Ian Davis frames his views on leadership with a few key starting points:

  1. “Leadership is non-hierarchical concept.” Leadership can be viewed from the bottom, middle, and the top of positions.  Look at it via many different lenses.
  2. “Leadership is a multi-faceted concept”: There are various types of leaders – from people to thought leader.  Leadership is not channeled through a narrow prism.  The “geek is a leader”.  It is a natural consequence of the knowledge economy.  There are a variety of types of leadership.
  3. “Leadership is contextual driven”: You have to look at leadership with a specific view of the context, business, or activities that are specific to that situation.  “You have to understand the context to understand leadership.”

Ian pushes back on generalizations on leaders. Leadership is best explained about what leaders do specific to the person and their situation.  Ian says that leaders do five key things in the eyes of their followers:

  1. All leaders set a direction It might be a vision. It might be a culture.  It might be a strategy.  It might be never said. But there is a direction.  If you ask most people in the company the should know the direction. People should know where the company or organization is going.
  2. Leaders initiative things. Some times this could be stopping things from happening. But usually leaders start things. The want to do things in pursuit of their direction.
  3. Leaders sustain momentum around their initiatives-They stick with things. They are often described with words such as tenacity, determination. Leaders stick with things.  There is a tension between starting new things and sticking with things.
  4. Leaders motivate others to do things.  Leaders may use various tactics such as greed, fear, manipulation, or other methods.  They select certain people, appoint relevant people, but further keep people engaged.
  5. All leaders lead by example. Whenever they say something or do something people notice.  People take examples from what they see or hear.

 

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