Leadership in the news monthly review Dec 2015

Review of articles on leadership featuring in the global news in Dec 2015

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Since its launch in August 2014, Leadership Issues regularly checks for articles of interest on business leadership featured in over 40 leading online international newspapers which it daily posts on this site and on Twitter. Below is a review of December.

There were three dominant themes which made up nearly 75% of all articles reported in the global news last month (December 2015):
1. Leadership characteristics (25 articles)
2. Diversity in the workplace (24 articles)
3. The skills/practice of leadership (23 articles)

Themes not included in the leader table were to do with leadership engagement succession/careers, training, innovation/future trends, change and the misgivings of year-end appraisals.

Leadership characteristics topped the leader board last month but only by a narrow margin. Both skills/practice of leadership and diversity in the workplace saw a 15% reduction in published articles in the global press; leadership characteristics however, saw a 20% increase on the amount of articles published on this theme. The recent scandals at Toshiba Corp and Volkswagen (which identified culture and leadership as contributing factors) may well have something to do with this increase as well as seasonal reflections on the state of business leadership.

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A glance at the year shows engagement as the overall dominant leadership issue of 2015 followed by the skills/practice of leadership. It also shows that leadership engagement was clustered in the first half of the year and leadership practices dominated the second half.

Every month Leadership Issues highlights articles that stood out.

David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom’s The Biggest Leadership Lessons Of 2015 published in Forbes reviewed the major leadership trends of 2015 (which included engagement and gender/generational diversity) creating a teachable point of view. I was drawn to this article because this is the central philosophy of Leadership Issues – as leaders, we don´t need to go on residential leadership programmes to learn about leadership, the narrative of leadership is all around us (in the stories we tell ourselves, in the news, in literature, in film).

In Have we created an unachievable myth of leadership?, Simon Caulkin writing in the Financial Times challenges the more conventional view of leadership characteristics (see for example Dr. Travis Bradberry’s What Makes a Leader? that featured last month in the Huffington Post ), a worldview that he considers is fashioned by the utopianist ‘leadership industry’, in favour of a less romanticised hard-core Machiavellian model of leadership. Another established British financial journal, The Economist, disparaged the cult of the extraordinary leader. Here Comes Superboss, derides the “cult of super performance”. Both these articles, although polemical and largely unsympathetic to established representations of leadership raise an important point of view concerning how we build cults and schools of thought around leadership which oftentimes the leaders themselves find difficult to live up to.

An inspiring article in December on diversity featured in The Entrepreneur. Gael O’Brien´s
Why Points of Difference Could Be What Brings Your Company Together explores how cultural/personality cohesion is a false blessing; it may be conflict-free and result in quicker meetings/decision-making , but it can lead to complacency/uninspiring results. Diversity of thought, ideas, personality, background, age, gender, sexuality brings rich ideas, competitive edge and reflects the world of the customer.  It requires a leadership mind-set shift to see difference as opportunity not difficulty.

There were three articles published last month where leadership issues published an immediate leadership point of view on the subject.

Business Insider´s Volkswagen is going to ‘rotate staff’ to improve oversight prompted the following point of view, Inspired Job Rotation should not be seen as a quick-fix.

Business Insider´s report Inside Third Avenue Management, where employees were terrified to bring bad news to the boss inspired the following response, Lessons in leadership from Third Avenue – communicating bad news.

Entrepreneur’s Resolutions Successful Business Leaders Will Keep inspired this reply, Isn’t it time to bury empowerment for enablement?.

Look out for daily posts on leadership issues on Twitter and view the full December archive here.

Leadership Issues editorial  2016