Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Leadership isn't everything

US President, Barack Obama, was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Price for providing so much hope to those wishing to achieve peace - rather than having actually achieved it. With his position as President of a "world superpower", as well as his background spanning cultural as well as religious divides, he holds a unique position with considerable "soft" as well as "hard" power at his disposal. Is it really possible though that the right leadership can overcome all other problems?

The most realistic answer is that there is no rule. Sometimes, yes it is enough and sometimes, no matter how good a leader you are, unpredictable events can conspire against you. The sort of leadership required can also change according to the situation one is confronted with - and situations can change pretty quickly. Winston Churchill steered Britain through the perilous times during WWII yet failed as the leader to introduce the social policies needed afterwards. Leadership is rarely enough but it is the necessary catalyst. Without it, unhealthy limbo prevails until a leader with the right skills appears to change direction or make the changes necessary. There have been so many theories on the subject - often contradictory - but they all agree on this.

Leadership has become one of the most hotly debated, disputed and contradicted management topics going. However, during times of crisis, leadership can build collaboration or create deeper divides, depending upon its quality. For lasting change to truly happen, it needs to be a team effort, all the way down the line, and although good leadership is required for that to happen, it isn't nearly enough.

No matter whether you are in an organisation or a family, leadership is the key to it functioning well and being able to move with the times. Being able to adapt to the situation as well as meet the needs of those around you are important skills for any leader, boss or parent (and they can often be at odds with each other). Will Barack Obama fulfill the hopes of the Nobel Peace Prize? I hope so, but in my heart I know that he is just one man. We need a prevailing will that is bigger than any one man. Can he inspire this will? Well, yes, I do believe that he can (as said by the leader himself!).

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