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This year was the 5th Leaders in London I have attended and after a slowish start, the event turned out to be as thought provoking with as many star studded luminaries as ever. As expected, the insights covered all perspective of Leadership, but I am focused here on the dimensions of Leadership and Management and the perspective of risk approaches.

Perhaps my favourite line of the two days had nothing to do Leadership or Management per se, but rather how to cope with the resource shortfall when a manager lets an underperformer go. Richard Reed, founder of Innocent Drinks, could not have put it more clearly when he said, “I would rather have a hole than an asshole.”

I have added Gary Hamel to my list of ‘thought leader heroes’ (see left hand column) after listening to his uncannily insightful dissection of complex topics (on top of always having admired his writing). Gary did assert his own distinction – “Leaders are radical, Managers are prudent.” – which I do not feel is so far off my model which looks at upside (leader) and downside (manager) risk.  You could say that both together ‘manage the revolution’ (combining the titles of his two most prominent works).

Mark Tucker, CEO of Prudential, described the role of ‘CEO’ as that of ‘stewardship’. I like that term because I think it connotes both dimensions of pursuing upside (steer the ship forward) and protecting downside (keep the ship afloat). And his further discussion on the topic demonstrated a deep appreciation for this balance which inspires my 22nd distinction on the subject. He noted, “You have to have both a defence and an offence.  The defence has got to be around cash and capital.  The second element is communication.  And then there is the offense…you have to look at where you can go…The balance is essential.  You have to survive to have a future.” So I would say, a ‘Leaders run the offence; Managers run the defence. Both together make for the biggest margin of victory.”

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