Thomas Barta: Leading your boss and colleagues matters more than leading your team

Leadership. If there were a prize for the world’s most overused word, I’d give it to leadership. Yet much of today’s leadership buzz still points in one direction: downwards – leading your team. The perplexing truth is that leading your bosses and colleagues may be more important.

Let’s step back in time. In the early 1900s, top-down leadership and the theories of Max Weber et al were in fashion. Firms were pretty hierarchical then. The boss called the shots. Success meant getting the most out of the people below you and executives craved tips on how to lead the team.

And today? In a digital, global world, is the most important task still to lead your team? London Business School’s Patrick Barwise and I asked that question in a large-scale study. The answer might surprise you. Yes, leading your team still matters – of course it does – but today, leading your bosses and your colleagues matters more.

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