3 Priorities for Leaders Who Want to Go Beyond Command-and-Control

HBR-Logo1Here is an excerpt from an article written by John Coleman and Jim Whitehurst for Harvard Business Review and the HBR Blog Network. To read the complete article, check out the wealth of free resources, obtain subscription information, and receive HBR email alerts, please click here.

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It’s cliché to say that “command and control” leadership is no longer relevant in most organizational contexts. But — especially in large, global, diverse organizations — what should it be replaced with? Leaders increasingly need to model traits that reflect the values and culture of the organization in which they operate. It’s nearly impossible to capture all those traits — every organization will have a different set of norms and customs. But there are at least a few essential leadership traits that we find common in many firms today.

First, in a world in which labor markets are fluid, leaders must inspire and impart purpose. When one of us interviewed young leaders for a book, two of the top three reasons they sought particular jobs were “intellectual challenge” and “opportunity to impact the world;” and other studies have consistently highlighted the increasing focus younger workers in particular place on purpose in the workplace. Anecdotally, that emphasis on finding purpose in our workplaces and in the companies we patronize — or as Simon Sinek might phrase it, starting with “why” — is redefining the way innovative companies like TOMS, Zappos, Whole Foods, and Google attract and retain talent. And at Red Hat, where one of us is CEO, the organization’s mission is a powerful catalyst in communities of customers, contributors, and partners for creating technology the open source way. The people who succeed in that context are those who are most inspired by that mission and are able to pass that inspiration to others and impart purpose in everything they do.

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Here’s a direct link to the complete article.

John Coleman is a coauthor of the book, Passion & Purpose: Stories from the Best and Brightest Young Business Leaders. Follow him on Twitter at @johnwcoleman. Jim Whitehurst is the president and CEO of Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of open source enterprise IT products and solutions. Follow him on Twitter at @JWhitehurst.

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