It is easy to be a successful leader in times of growth and economic bounty. What actually proves leaders is how they act and lead in times of crisis.
Real leaders prove themselves in the midst of uncertainty, when the world seems to collapse around them. It is in these situations that their determination, ruthless persistence, skillset proves itself. It is in these situations that they will lead the transformation.
A real leader is not proven until he/she is proven by a crisis. Behold to excessive adulation of leaders that seem successful just because they are lucky to be in an easy environment. They are not necessarily going to be the ones that will prove to be the leader you need in times of crisis. At the same time, many historical examples show that the leaders that prove themselves to be the one people follow in a crisis might not be the shiny leaders of an easier time. Many of them were barely noticed, struggled and were only discovered – and discovered themselves- upon the crisis.
In the Collaborative Age where discontinuities will happen more frequently, we need those leaders that will lead us through these transformations. We need avoid those easy-going leaders that will shrink at the sight of the first unknown difficulty.
Where can we find those leaders we need? How can we know if the current leader will fit the bill? There is not other alternative: throw them out in impossible situations and see whether they float or sink. Do that early enough when they are unknown. Give them the learning experience of harsh times.
Don’t rely on shiny leaders of easy times. Make sure you rely on those leaders that have seen it through successive crisis, that have mastered their inner game and know when and how to be persistent against all odds. Rely on leaders that failed hard and managed to make it through. Rely on leaders from discriminated communities that managed to elevate themselves against the odds.
The Collaborative Age will need tough and generous leaders that will lead us through the crisis. Be sure to choose the right leader.