Leaders everywhere: A conversation with Gary Hamel

Gary Hamel, professor of strategic and international management, discusses why the notion of leadership should be expanded to include all the members of a workforce. (McKinsey, 2:50 minutes).

According to Gary Hamel, the concentration of decision-making power in the hands of a few top executives compromises business effectiveness. The complexity and uncertainty of today’s environment means that by the time critical information reaches the ears of executive management, showing them that changes need to be made, it is too late. The rigid, pyramidal structure that still characterizes most companies and keeps decision-making power in the hands of a select few is a fundamental problem.

Nonetheless, the increasing prevalence of concepts like co-creation, associates (vs. employees), and partners (vs. suppliers) reveals business leaders’ growing awareness of the need for talent, ideas, and resources from throughout their organizations. Harvard professor Joseph S. Nye claims the future calls for a more effective distrubtion of power on the international scale, and the same may be said for business. “Structures, compensation, and decision making must catch up with this new reality,” Hamel comments.

How can we give company members leadership opportunities while also teaching them to wield this power wisely? In fact, business managers must redefine mangement systems to align them with fundamental principles of empowerment, meritocracy, and tranparency. Then, all organizational talent should be sought out and put to use.

Explore other reasons to empower the members of your organization in the Business Digest September 2010 report “Take Care of Your People to Draw In Customers” based on the book Employees First, Customers Second by Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies. Reversing the hierarchical pyramid is not a mere pipedream: this 80,000-member IT firm is doing so on a daily basis!

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Take Care of Your People to Draw In Customers” based on the book Employees First, Customers Second by Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies. Reversing the hierarchical pyramid is not a mere pipedream: this 80,000-member IT firm is doing so on a daily basis!