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Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Leadership Gap Between the Public and Private Sectors

David Rubenstein, a founding managing director of The Carlyle Group, one of the world’s premiere private-equity firms, has built a career on assessing companies across industries and around the globe. 

In this interview from the McKinsey conversations with global leaders, Rubenstein shares his insights on how to manage a diverse and decentralised organisation, how to identify the markets of greatest potential in a changing world economy, and how to attract leaders who are both intelligent and “have their ego in check.” He also discusses the new ecosystem he sees developing for the private-equity industry as pressures build for some of its largest players go public -



Is Your Leadership Consistent?

Is your leadership consistent, regardless of the setting you are in, the people you’re with or the circumstances you’re facing? 

Consistency in leadership may sound like a recipe for boring sameness or rigid thinking. On the contrary, being a consistent leader means:

  • What is important today is also important tomorrow
  • You don’t chase the latest fad, project or trend
  • Your bad mood doesn’t cause you to act radically different
  • People know what to expect from you.
Being consistent in your leadership means that even under duress, you make the right choices. You steer the ship, make mid-course corrections and align your “crew” around important best practices that will help you reach your destination.

Even the most reliable and unswerving of leaders must be able to adjust to change. Yet, the consistent leader will be grounded, so that unfamiliar and challenging conditions won’t change the quality of interactions, thinking and decision-making.

How do you stay on course and make consistently positive leadership choices?

Start by answering these four questions:

1. What is success? Success is defined first by the impact you want to make – and secondly by the results you need to achieve to have that impact. Think about who and what will be changed by your efforts. That’s your impact.

2. What is sacred? What are your non-negotiables? Make a list of the things you will not compromise, no matter what. For example, you might list ethical standards that are vital and unchanging.

3. What is important? List a few guiding principles for your life and your leadership. Examples might include:
  • Act with integrity
  • Be a good steward of resources
  • Be humble
  • Have fun
4. What works? Know – and grow – best practices that lead to success, help you hold fast to what is sacred and allow you to focus on what is important. Identify the thinking and actions that are requirements for questions 1, 2 and 3.

Consistent, dependable leadership choices provide a solid foundation for your people – enabling them to weather storms and operate at their peak. You shouldn’t be completely predictable. You don’t have to be perfect, and you’re allowed to have bad days. What you cannot do is permit outside conditions to change you fundamentally – causing you to shift whichever way the wind blows. Be the anchor that your organisational ship requires.