Saturday, May 2, 2009

Control Versus Leadership

In my last post Are CEOs Playing Chess?, I compared the game of chess to the challenges CEOs face in running their organizations. I suggested that chess is far easier because you can control the moves of the pieces. In chess, knowing what to do is enough to win. In running an organization, inspiring your stakeholders to achieve your goals requires more than just knowing what to do. It requires true leadership skills.

Ed Lee agreed that playing a game of chess where you only lead your pieces versus control them could be very entertaining and challenging. Howard Steiger (fellow MASCL grad) hinted that people can operate successfully outside the rules if given the freedom to do so. In the initial post, I looked at how control may quell individual mistakes or rogue behavior. But you also have to concede that control also limits an organization's true potential.

Leadership is harder, but the rewards can be far greater. Control may be enough to win at chess, because let's face it, the best you can do is win. In life, the possibilities for success, growth, and relevance can be far greater than a simple "win." Because of this, the last thing a leader would ever want to do is control his/her employees. A great team can help you realize the unimaginable - exceeding a CEO's greatest expectations.

That's why great leaders don't try to control their people; they create environments that unlock their limitless potential.


  1. The art and skill of leadership is to be admired. As I learned from Jim Mullen, the original found of my agency, managers tell you what they want you do to. Leaders inspire you to accomplish what you never even thought possible. It's easy to see that a leader can take an organization to untold heights with that magical ability.
    Edward Boches

  2. Leadership is a great skill and an art form. I learned this years ago from my mentor Jim Mullen. Managers can tell you what to do. But leaders can inspire you to accomplish what you never thought possible. Easy to see why a great leader can take an organization to new heights.

    Edward Boches



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