Leaders are the prisoners of many overwhelming forces and constraints, and yet there is a kernel of indeterminacy, or awareness, will and choice — seeing, being and doing — that can take the leader and the led in many different directions, according to Nigel Nicholson in his book The ‘I’ of Leadership: Strategies for Seeing, Being and Doing. Leaders who can choose who they are, what they see and what they do can claim the power to achieve their goals.
The author provides a three-point framework for analysing leadership: Situations, Processes and Qualities:
Leadership success arises from being the right person, at the right time and place, doing the right things. Some people have adaptable leadership skills, which are suitable for many different types of situations, whereas others have narrower leadership skills, suited only to particular environments.
The book goes on to talk about critical leader relationships, suggesting that a leader can be significantly more effective if he or she has access to a partner — which could be a spouse but more commonly is a friend or business associate — who helps to strengthen the leader’s willpower, supplies an enriched portrait of the world, and tells the truth in ways that the leader can accept. The perfect critical leader relationship is with someone similar enough to the leader to be able to generate trust and understanding, but different enough to bring fresh thoughts, feelings and actions.
Another key concept is that of Destiny, Drama and Deliberation. Destiny is the elements of predetermination in a person’s life according to factors like upbringing and environment. Drama consists of unpredicted experiences that alter the person’s life course. Deliberation is the conscious choices that the person makes after considering the available options. All three elements are essential in the making of a leader.
The book contains plenty of interesting anecdotes, but will it actually help the reader to become a better leader? Like most books, this one will probably connect more with some readers than with others. It should undoubtedly help some to see leadership in a different and clearer light.