Leadership in the information age

A list of the top-selling business books for October 2008 revealed that seven of the 10 titles listed related to leadership. Some of the books were guides purporting to help readers become better leaders; others were treatises on some specific aspects of leading an organization. The other three books dealt with surviving the nation’s current economic woes and parlaying the strengths of diversity into one’s ideal career and life. Tall orders, all.

It isn’t surprising that so many of those business books focus on leadership. Effective leadership is crucial, especially now that organizations and individuals alike are challenged with an economic climate unmatched in recent memory. The times are turbulent, and calm, decisive guidance is the balm that many companies and employees need. The number of books about leading simply confirms what savvy leaders already know – it’s a job that can have an almost limitless description and one that demands a grab bag of qualifications and skills. Imagine, for instance, the varying demands of leading a Fortune 500 firm versus a company business employing a handful of people. Vastly different.

What isn’t different, though – and what the scope of those top books points out – is that leaders need a constant flow of reliable information. Nobody can be a wizard at every business discipline or know everything they need to manage brilliantly all the time. But there are constants that can help leaders build a good basis for success: coaching, corporate culture, creativity and innovation, customer focus, internal communication, managing a global workforce, managing change, teams, work ethic and attitudes, and effective leadership. That litany is simply a recap of the Knowledge Centers that comprise i4cp’s Leadership pillar. When you multiply topics by the six pillars that make up i4cp’s knowledge base, you gain a better idea of just how much a leader really needs to know about on an ongoing basis.

The recent election demonstrated our nation’s hunger for new leadership. As a president-elect begins to build his team, finalize his strategies, and take the helm, it seems an opportune time for leaders of all sorts to regroup. In this age of information, a leader who recognizes the importance of staying well informed is likely to be the kind of leader who’ll wind up well ahead of the competition. Why not turn this slowdown into a time to learn? Assess organizational and industry conditions, examine the challenges that lie ahead, assemble the teams needed for support, craft strategies to produce results, and understand how to monitor progress and how to make adjustments when they’re required. Get the information you need to remount the quest for success.
Carol Morrison
Carol Morrison is a Senior Research Analyst and Associate Editor with the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), specializing in workforce well-being research.