Tom Peters on leading the 21st-century organisation

McKinsey Quarterly talked recently to long-time management guru Tom Peters about how to lead the 21st-century organisation. He had several very interesting things to say:

On Automation:

  • “I really do believe that the only defence against automation is the development of talent. What other choice is there if we’re going to deal with the forces that we’re talking about? You don’t have any choice except to develop people.”

On Culture:

  • Corporate culture is not part of the game: it is the game. You’ve got to do the corporate culture first.”

On Developing People:

  • “If you’re a leader, your whole reason for living is to help human beings develop — to really develop people and make work a place that’s energetic and exciting and a growth opportunity, whether you’re running a Housekeeping Department or Google.”
  • If you take a leadership job, you’re in the people-development business. You do people. Period. It’s what you do. It’s what you’re paid to do. People, period. Should you have a great strategy? Yes, you should. How do you get a great strategy? By finding the world’s greatest strategist, not by being the world’s greatest strategist. You do people.”
  • “Any idiot with a high IQ can invent a great strategy. What’s really hard is fighting against the unwashed masses and pulling it off… Change is about recruiting allies and working each other up to have the nerve to try the next experiment. You find allies. You encircle the buggers. You don’t bring about change in real big meetings or virtual meetings. You bring it about one person at a time, face to face.”

On 21st-Century Leadership:

  • 21st-century-AD leadership is probably just about the same as 21st-century-BC leadership. And, fundamentally, it is about organising the affairs of our fellow human beings to provide some sort of a service to other people.”

Inner Leadership is a structured framework and tools for developing people — starting with you.

It’s about developing people to know what most inspires them most deeply — what we call their ‘purpose’ and their ‘values’.

And then it’s about enabling you, and them, to see situations more clearly, find more opportunities to make those purpose and values happen, and then inspire yourself and other people to make what matters most happen.

Inner Leadership is a framework and a set of tools for creating who people not only survive the changes of the 21st century but who use those changes to become stronger, antifragile.

This is 21st century leadership.


Inner Leadership is a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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You can buy the book here and the workbook here.

(And remember: you don’t learn to swim by reading about swimming, you also need to practice.)


Image: tompeters.com

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