Unless we challenge long-held assumptions about how business leaders are supposed to act and where they're supposed to come from, many people who could become effective global leaders will remain invisible, warns Harvard Business School professor Hill. Instead of assuming that leaders must exhibit take-charge behavior, broaden the definition of leadership to include creating a context in which other people are willing and able to guide the organization. And instead of looking for the next generation of global leaders in huge Western corporations and elite business schools, expand the search to developing countries. In this conversation with HBR senior editor Paul Hemp, Hill describes the changing nature of leadership and what we can learn from parts of the world where people have not, until recently, had opportunities to become globally savvy executives. In South Africa, for instance, the African National Congress has provided rigorous leadership preparation for many black executives. Hill has also observed two approaches - in developed and developing economies alike - that she believes will be necessary in an increasingly complex business environment. The first, leading from behind, involves letting people hand off the reins to one another, depending on their strengths, as situations change. The second, leadership as collective genius, calls for both unleashing and harnessing individuals' collective talents, particularly to spur innovation. Through her descriptions of these approaches in such companies as Sekunjalo Investments, HCL Technologies, and IBM, Hill highlights the challenges of finding and preparing people who can lead by stepping back and letting others come forward to make their own judgments and take risks.
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