August 25, 2008

Where's the Leadership?

I just watched (again) the movie Network. If you haven't seen it in a while, it's worth a rent. Peter Finch played the incredible Howard Beale, famous for his line "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it any more!" No one could have predicted back in 1977 how prophetic it would really be for the television industry. Howard Beale fighting against the corporate empires of the world (as summed up in an outstanding speech by Net Beatty). Without going into too much movie story, Howard Beale hit a nerve with the American people and created a stir that no politician had ever achieved. He had people screaming out of their windows, sending telegrams to the White House, and generally riled up to the point of revolution.

Then everything went back to normal.

Leadership is sometimes the voice crying out in the wilderness. But sometimes it's a softer voice in the boardroom, office or cubicle. But either way, it's a sustained one, not a flash in the pan. Often, as Jim Collins has told us, it is the quiet leader that is most effective. The one who understands his hedgehog -- that one thing that makes the company successful. And, the person who can instill that vision into everything that he does.

What's your hedgehog? Not just what are you good at... what are you awesome at? Then think about how you can develop that strength and become that one that will get noticed, not just for a flash, but for good. Chances are, Michael Phelps is a great basketball player too. But when he's in the pool everyday working out, you can bet he's not thinking about developing that 3-point shot.

There's room for all of us at the top. We just need our focus sharpened.