The pervasive view on leadership is situational (a better but uglier word would be positional), thus completely false.
The assumption is that guys in leadership roles “develop” or “grow”; they are reflective, analyzing mistakes and learn from it (some of them do, sure!). I guess some people (mostly 20 something consultants with fresh academic memory, who never have been in the driver seat themselves) even think that leaders spend a certain % of their time away from budgets, KPIs, pricing, conflicts, egos, and other mundane things in order to think about strategy, concepts and similar stuff. If they have good ideas that serve the common good, they can eloquently sell these to key people in their organization, to key suppliers and investors and together with them they happily continue their quest for world domination…
…of course; there must be a reason why made it to the top!
Most guys reporting to the CEO have a different opinion about this.
The problem is with the position. Positions are determined by conditions, much stronger than the CEO, whose activities are…highly conditioned; not the other way around, at least not in the overwhelming majority of the cases!!!
It’s important to note that this is especially true for so called “career leaders” who build their career by complying to conditions as much as humanly possible…or more.
The higher the role, the more restricted is the freedom to move. This is independent of market size since there is more competition in bigger markets while there aren’t enough positions available in smaller markets so in addition to market conditions, career leaders are also enslaved to their own ambitions. Make no mistake about it: these guys are going to serve their own (rather dull) ambitions, no matter what.
It’s obvious that such slaves cannot be trusted. This cowardice, which is often backed up by such sinister excuses like ” I am doing it for my family” results in enron, aig, goldman sachs on the higher end or mediocre machines, also run by well paid schizophrenics on the lower end.
It’s obvious (or it should be) that the essence of leadership lies in the ability to rise above conditions, which from another aspect is analogous with the will to real (as opposed to positional) power; it’s a poise that considers and evaluates conditions but aligns them to higher principles, very often against conditions and odds, creating new ones if necessary.