"Centered Leadership"

I am sick and tired of leadership defined by all kinds of qualifiers. Before a recent speech I searched Amazon for books about leadership and got 188,170 returns. Among the first 10 pages were these titles:
Facilitative Leader (Schwarz)
Authentic Leadership
Visionary Leadership
Integrated Leadership
Principle Centered Leadership (Covey)
Spiritual Leadership (Sanders)
Resonant Leadership (McKee woman co-author)
Servant Leadership (Greenleaf)
Courageous Leadership (Hybels)
Heroic Leadership (Lowney)
Quiet Leadership (Rock)
Emotionally Intelligent Leadership (Feldman)
Results-Based Leadership (Ulrich et. al)
Quantum Leadership (Studer)
No Excuse Leadership (Barber)
Enlightened Leadership (Oakley)

Now we have a research project from McKinsey calling for women to develop "centered leadership". The McKinsey study points out key messages for women, but like too many formulas for success it over-focuses on personal attributes and interpersonal skills and under-focuses on business and strategic acumen.

"...we have distilled a leadership model comprising five broad and interrelated dimensions:

--Meaning, or finding your strengths and putting them to work in the service of an inspiring purpose.

--Managing energy, or knowing where your energy comes from, where it goes and what you can do to manage it.

--Positive framing, or adopting a more constructive way to view your world, expand your horizons and gain the resilience to move ahead even when bad things happen.

--Connecting, or identifying who can help you grow, building stronger relationships and increasing your sense of belonging.

--Engaging, or finding your voice, becoming self-reliant and confident by accepting opportunities and the inherent risks they bring and collaborating with others.

We call this model centered leadership. As the name implies, it's about having a well of physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual strength that drives personal achievement and, in turn, inspires others to follow. What's particularly exciting is that we are starting to discover ways women can actively build the skills to become more self-confident and effective leaders. Centered leadership also works for men, though we have found that the model resonates particularly well with women because we have built it on a foundation of research into their specific needs and experiences."

We need to cut to the chase...here's the truth. Leadership is leadership. Great leaders at all levels draw on a range of personal attributes, they achieve key organizational outcomes and do it by engaging the best in others. The McKinsey model (summarized here) says nothing about organizational outcomes. Like so many others, it is of limited help to women.

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