The evolutional leader

news: The evolutional leader

KARL MOORE from McGill University called my attention to this recent book, which presents two basic theses.

First, there are three types of leaders: transformational, continuity and evolutionary.

Transformational managers are entrepreneurs, doers, addicted to 1) action and 2) modifying things: culture, processes, products and services.

There are then the continuity leaders, who bring peace after the war and ensure the indispensable stability of the day to day running of an organisation.

Finally, there is the evolutionary leader, who is halfway between the two above. Leader of change, yes, but gradual… without ruptures… progressively.

The idea that Moore, Jaccaci and Gault support is that, although different companies in different situations need different types of leaders, globalisation requires, in general, evolutionary leaders.

That is the case even in high-tech companies. Take Dell, for instance, which recently captured a lot of the low price PC’s segment by adapting – slowly – its traditional way of business. Or IBM, after Gerstaer Palmisano (a transformational leader) arrived in 2002. Palmisano was also an evolutionary leader who implemented gradual changes.

At the head of Vancity Credit Union is D. Mowat, who, with timely but continuous changes, without challenging the culture and the management of the company, has obtained high levels of sustained growth for the bank. Another example is J. Lamarre of SNC – Lavalin Group Inc.

In short, in most cases, globalisation requires evolutionary leaders, regardless of the sectors – be they health, biotechnology, genetics, digital economy and so on. In less cases, there is the need of transformational or continuity leaders.

Underlying this theory, there are three fundamental points that are important to remember. First – there are few men for every season. As the Chinese proverb says, “nobody can escape its shadow”. Thus the importance of knowing oneself: “Nosce ipsum” was the inscription on the Delphi temple and a perpetual insistence of Socrates.

Drucker used to tease his students: “Tell me what you do best, where is your comparative advantage? You don’t know it? What a shame! Shame on you!” In fact the answer is not easy. Thales of Mileto stated that to know oneself was the most difficult thing in life (and the easiest thing was to give advice to others).

Second, different situations require different types of leaders. A manager who disregards this may be the right person in the wrong place. A manager who becomes “settled” may overstay beyond his/her utility.

Therefore, the idea that “men are like capital; their worth depends upon where they are placed” (N. Bonaparte). So the question to you, dear reader: what kind of manager are you? And…where are you?