Magazine article New Zealand Management

Leadership: Leaders - Your Country Needs You

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Leadership: Leaders - Your Country Needs You

Article excerpt

Byline: Reg Birchfield

Leadership, says a friend of mine, is first and foremost about vision. "It is about service and community," says another. Frances Hasselbein, America's most applauded lady of leadership, says leadership is about self -- about how to be, not how to do.

Leading is, of course, about all these things and more. More often than not it defies succinct definition and is, instead, exemplified by actions that surprise or unexpectedly move us.

Why then, after 50 something years, has NZ Management magazine opted to publish a regular column on the topic? Leaders and leadership are surely ubiquitous to the magazine's content. That's true, but here are some of the rationalisations.

Thoughtful, honest, visionary and empathetic leadership is, for a variety of both obvious and not-so-obvious reasons, critical to this country. Perhaps we can pick up on examples of these virtues in action.

Leadership is changing. That seems to be true too. But how is it changing? Why is it changing? Is it really changing or is it just the environment in which leaders must lead that is different and demanding of new responses? Whichever or whatever is the reality, there is a need to keep abreast of the leadership play, to test the theories, discuss the trends and collect the evidence of evolution.

Readers might like to understand leaders and leadership better. What motivates individuals, for instance? Can examples of inspired leadership make a difference? What prompts leaders to act wisely or stupidly? Are their actions indeed explicable? We are according to accepted wisdom, all potential leaders. If so what unlocks the leader within?

With luck, the column might, at least from time-to-time, be interesting or even a tad controversial. Publishers like that sort of thing. Perhaps it will create some leadership conversations. Kiwis aren't good at having tough conversations. And, to be honest, we need some tough conversations around the leadership space.

New Zealand has a leadership problem. It is not, of course, unique to us. Incompetent, self serving, hostile, unimaginative and confused leadership sits atop an array of the world's most pressing problems. New Zealand, sadly, is simply a more benign, and in some ways a more corrosive microcosm of what ails much of the world. …

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