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Please read this vignette by Gary Hamel, American management expert, as quoted in the book, The Captain’s Myth’ by Richard Gillis.

First, assume you have no positional authority. No job title. And second, assume you have no sanctions,’ says Hamel. ‘If someone doesn’t agree there’s nothing you can do. Then ask yourself what could you get done with those two assumptions. If you can do something amazing, you are a leader.

If you need one or both of those levers, we’re not having a conversation about leadership, we’re talking about how to be a good bureaucrat. And that’s OK. But let’s not pretend we’re talking about leadership, because we’re not’.

Own the Conversation

Hamel’s vignette is worth reflecting on.

I suggest you made a calendar entry to spend 30 minutes away from your desk (may be at a cafe where you won’t be disturbed) for reflection time.

Questions you might ask in related to the vignette include:

  • Am I more of a bureaucrat or a leader?
  • How much could I accomplish without the two levers?
  • What’s one thing I could do in the next seven days to move away from being a bureaucrat?


p.s.The quality of what we think and say makes us valuable – not how fast or busy we are.’ Sister Joan Chittister

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Showing 3 comments
  • Michael Kelly

    Thanks Ross. I look forward to reading your blog

  • Andrew Bacon

    Great post Michael. Such a thought provoking way to think about this. We can so easily think we are leaders but this is a great sense check!

    p.s. I enjoyed the p.s. too. Another great thought to ponder.

    • Michael Kelly

      Thanks Andrew.

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