Lessons In Leadership: It’s Not About You. (It’s About Them) – National Public RadioPosted: November 18, 2013
Ronald Heifetz draws on his training as a psychiatrist to coach aspiring leaders at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
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Ronald Heifetz has been a professor of public leadership at Harvard’s Kennedy School for three decades, teaching classes that have included aspiring business leaders and budding heads of state. Each year, he says, the students start his course thinking they’ll learn the answer to one question:
As leaders, how can they get others to follow them?
Heifetz says that whole approach is wrong.
“The dominant view of leadership is that the leader has the vision and the rest is a sales problem,” he says. “I think that notion of leadership is bankrupt.” That approach only works for technical problems, he says, where there’s a right answer and an expert knows what it is.
Heifetz trained as a psychiatrist, and he describes his view of effective leadership with an analogy from medicine. “When a patient comes to a surgeon, the surgeon’s default setting is to say, ‘You’ve got a problem? I’ll take the problem off your shoulders and I’ll deliver back to you a solution.’ In psychiatry, when a person comes to you with a problem, it’s not your job actually to solve their problem. It’s your job to develop their capacity to solve their own problem.”