The topic in the executive committee meeting turned to Europe. The technology company, Alentix*, was doing well and growing annually at the rate of about 15 percent. But its European division was struggling. It had been five years since the region turned a profit.
Yet no one had addressed that issue. Jean, the head of the Europe office, had been with the company longer than anyone else around the table â€” he had strong ties with the board – and the topic seemed untouchable.
This time looked to be no different. When Jean said he was on top of things, no one challenged him. I looked around the room at the silent senior leadership of Alentix, all of whom had privately complained to me about Jean’s performance in recent weeks. I suggested we take a 15-minute break.
Every one of these leaders was smart, knowledgeable and capable. They’d all read innumerable books on leadership, taken leadership skills assessments and attended multiple training programs – including executive leadership programs at top business schools. They knew as much as anyone about leadership.
So why weren’t they leading?
The answer is deceptively simple: There is a massive difference between what we know about leadership and what we do as leaders.
I have never seen a leader fail because he or she didn’t know enough about leadership. In fact, I can’t remember ever meeting a leader who didn’t know enough about leadership.
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