Let’s not fool ourselves – we all think that, as managers, we are solid, revered and that our organisations could not do without us.

Wrong. Very wrong.

Under most circumstances, a leader is elected or appointed. As long as the lucky person has some kind of “experience” then it should work out. Possibly. Every once in a while, though, someone comes to the table who is inexperienced or who gets the job through exceptional circumstances – such people have the potential to become an unconventional, powerful leader. Such leaders are “unfiltered” leaders, unproven in their area of leadership and as such agents for real change. They bring no baggage, have fresh ideas and will challenge existing wisdom and opinion. Unfiltered leaders will have a high impact and will either do very well or very badly.

Managers and leaders are limited by a number of factors;
An external environment in which responses of competitors limits the leader’s discretion to act.
Internal company structures or political norms that leaders have to respond to.
Selection systems inevitably favour the “norm” and promote this hence promoting stability and certainty.

A final thought – every business start-up features an unfiltered leader. The entrepreneur is always an unfiltered leader. Richard Branson was. Alan Sugar was. Business failures often feature an unfiltered leader – the trick is to learn from the process and adapt your style. Or the unfiltered leader could just roll-over and work quietly as a cog in the wheel of a big organisation.

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