Lee-Davies, L. and Kakabadse, N. K. (2011) Individual and corporate leadership longevity. Seminar Presentation presented to: 7th European Conference on Management Leadership and Governance (ECMLG 2011), SKEMA Business School, Sophia-Antipolis, France, 06-07 October 2011.
Leadership is often very competently defined in terms of sets of skills to be appropriately administered to a situation and this is often added to by emphases on character or trait being influential in the successful outcome. Success therefore, is assumed to be dependent on an individual leader being able to, or having the correct perceptive skills to, furnish the right skills mix at the right time. Inevitably, there is significant margin for error as hopeful reliance on such serendipity can be high in the success equation. Reducing the margin for error by forming a more robust approach to developing a broader and more reliable set of leadership skills and capabilities would provide a greater likelihood of strategic alignment between corporate and individual need on a more robust basis, increasing both of their respective shelve lives in their internal and external competitive worlds. These skills, therefore, need to be embedded in order to provide necessary strength and yet be flexible enough to adapt to survive in differing environments. Once cultivated, these skills need to be inclusive and able to align the leader and their followers to the organisational vision in the most informed and collaborative way possible. Underpinned by empirical studies as well as conceptual argument, a model of leadership longevity is formed with interesting and novel propositions which take the modern leader into less chartered, emotional territory to really get to know themselves and their company in a holistic manner with the purpose of increasing the resilience of both. This paper maps the journey less travelled that leads to leadership longevity with an equal balance of two distinct foci, one of Socratic self knowledge and the other foci being knowledge of the other (i.e. critical stakeholders and environment). This knowledge requires a different approach to developing self and to acquiring critical organisational information for more informed decision making through a deliberative inquiry approach, before aligning all effort towards the organisational vision. Critically and more fully informed about self and the facts and the feelings of crucial stakeholders and the formative context (i.e. history, environment in which the organization sits), new leaders emerging from hard times are much better equipped to stay the course for longer and be more emotionally robust themselves to help others do the same