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he older I get and the grumpier I get the more I come to realize
that the most important thing in the life of any enterprise is
‘leadership’. The fortunes of the enterprise rise or fall on the back of the
leadership style of the C-level executive, as simple as that, and we have a
myriad of examples to support this assertion. In this respect, Board’s
have a great responsibility, because they choose the CEO of the enter-
prise in the first place. After that, the appointed CEO will gather their
team around and the task of re-aligning the enterprise with its various
stakeholders begins. The best, most authentic leaders are those that fully
understand their customers and the wider market, and put in place
appropriate strategies to serve it. They also understand the nuances of
their own organization, and move strongly to build the corresponding
internal capabilities that will successfully propel their selected strategies
into the marketplace. This chapter explores the ‘leadershipissue in
enterprises and their constituent supply chains. Everything is linked, but
everything also depends on having the appropriate leadership in place at
a particular point in the life-cycle of the enterprise.
How do you judge a good leader? Many of us can recognize good leader-
ship when we see it, but it’s harder to define. My experience tells me that
successful leadership is not necessarily transferable from one organization
to another nor is one style necessarily right for a particular organization
C H A P T E R 5
Leading from the front
Converting customer insight into successful
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through time. Leaders and leadership styles need to be just as dynamic as
the people they lead and the customers they seek to satisfy. Effective leaders
will be able to shape the subcultures and implement the strategy needed in
a complex supply chain environment. As John Kotter put it, ‘institutional-
izing a leadership-centered culture is the ultimate act of leadership’.
in fact was one of the first management writers to recognize that ‘aligning’
people around a vision, and its related strategies, involved far more than
simply organizing and staffing.
Leadership and management are ‘two dis-
tinct and complementary systems of action. Each has its own function and
characteristic activities. Both are necessary for success in an increasingly
complex and volatile business environment.’
Politics gives us some telling examples of how different leader-
ship styles are needed for different situations or challenges. Sir Winston
Churchill was a strong and decisive leader as British Prime Minister
throughout the Second World War, but he was unsuccessful during the
ensuing peace time and was soon replaced. A more recent example is
New York’s Mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, who was heavily criticized before
the 9/11 terrorist strike for his stance on race relations and civil liberties.
But post 9/11, attitudes to Giuliani changed, even if his style did not. The
Mayor’s strong, energetic and hands-on style sent a consistent message
to the city that he was in control and the ‘right person’ for the job at that
time of crisis.
Deborah Ancona et al. take a very pragmatic approach to leadership
when they suggest that . . . no leader is perfect. The best ones don’t try
to be they concentrate on honing their strengths and find others who can
make up for their limitations’
. In their opinion, ‘. . . the sooner leaders stop
trying to be all things to all people, the better off their organizations will be’.
Leadership is about authenticity
The point is that good leaders are rarely cardboard cut-outs. Leadership is
about authenticity, and the best leaders have the unique qualities of a gen-
uine sense of self and the ability to inspire. According to Mike Hanley, ‘in
leadership circles, authenticity means “being yourself ”’. Look at the likes
of Jack Welch (GE); Richard Branson (Virgin), Terry Leahy (Tesco),
Gerry Harvey (Harvey Norman), Michael Hawker (ex IAG), Philip Green
(United Utilities) and Silvan Cassano (Benneton); all share a certain qual-

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