Friday, October 31, 2014

Michael Useem on Leadership from Mount Everest

While working for a previous management consulting firm, I sought to bolster my grasp of leadership, business and economics and decided to keep a running journal of notes and insights.  So I continue what I began the week before last, that is, capture some of those journal entries here.

Michael Useem

November 9th 2001
  1. Leaders should be led by the group’s needs. “First, leadership is built by serving. Second, when leaders truly serve and subordinate their private welfare to that of all others, their authority often becomes unquestionable.”
  2. Inaction can sometimes be the most difficult - but wisest - action. “Tempering the desire for action in business is likewise difficult…” especially if it appears like the right action, when it fact it is more of a precipitous, reckless one. I am most reminded of wu-wei, the essential principle of Taoism: Allow for the natural flow of things without interference. “Action through non-action.”
  3. If your words don’t stick, you haven’t spoken. Take responsibility for making sure that the intended impact of a key message has actually been achieved.
  4. Leading upwards can feel wrong if it’s right. Have the courage and conviction to do something different from what the leader says, especially if you know that what he or she is saying is wrong.
Reference: The Leadership Lessons of Mount Everest, by Michael Useem (2001), in Harvard Business Review (Vol. 79, no. 9, pp. 51-58).  Also, see Leadership Lessons from... Mr. Everest for more notes on Useem's four principles of leadership.

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