Leadership is simple.

Earlier in the year, McKinsey released results from new research on leadership.
“Decoding leadership: What really matters”
The subhead of the article suggests that there’s a “secret” to developing effective leaders.
And it’s achieved by encouraging four types of behavior.
Do you think you can guess what they are?
Don’t try, you can’t.
And neither can most CEOs.
Despite the fact that they spend over $14 billion annually on leadership training.
And that’s just in the United States.
In fact, less than half of CEOs are “confident that their training investments will bear fruit.”
Why not?
Because they don’t know what behaviors they’re training to enhance.
I know you’re curious, so give it a go.
Which behaviors, of the following choices, is more important?

A. Seek different perspectives? or
B. Develop and share a collective mission?
A. Communicate prolifically and enthusiastically? or
B. Be supportive?
A. Facilitate group collaboration? or
B. Operate with strong results orientation?
A. Solve problems effectively? or
B. Develop others?

The answer is the name of a Swedish pop group from the 70s.
So how did you do?
And here’s why.
Einstein said, “It is the theory which decides what we can observe.”
You don’t have a theory of leadership, a metaphor.
One that allows you to observe and compare people’s behavior.
And which informs your decisions and actions.
My theory is simple.
Leaders are Sherpas.
The root of the word “lead” means “to go forth, to travel.”
Great leaders are simply great guides on other people’s trips.
And what makes someone a great guide?
They’ve climbed the mountain many times before.
So they know the terrain and the culture.
And they know how to prepare the route and the logistics.
But more importantly, they listen to, and work with, the climbers.
They support them, keep them moving and on track, and remove obstacles.
They don’t talk much.
And they don’t stop to convene countless meetings.
They allow the climbers to reach the summit through their own skill and will.
Successfully and safely.
Leadership is simple.
It’s the climb that’s challenging.

Tom Asacker