Tom Peters on leading the 21st-century organisation

Tom Peters

Interviewed by McKinsey Quarterly, long-time management guru Tom Peters has a number of interesting things to say about leading the 21st-century organisation:

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 — although there’s nothing stupider than saying change is about overcoming resistance. 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.”

The Churning agrees.

21st Century Leadership is about people development. And it’s about creating the inspiration to try the next experiment.

That means developing people’s ability to lead and inspire themselves, then others. This is ‘inner leadership’.

The book, Inner Leadership, is a recipe for fast-track, high-octane people-development. It’s about creating people who know their own purpose and values and connect strongly with them. It’s about creating people who stay calm in a crisis, see clearly, and find more opportunities to move forward. It’s about creating people who can then describe the best way forward in ways that inspire themselves and other people to want to make it happen.

Inner Leadership is about developing people and leaders who not only know how to survive change of the 21st century but who actually know how to use change to become stronger, to become ‘antifragile’.

How will you and your people develop the skills you need for 21st-century leadership?


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

You can sign up to daily posts here.


Image: tompeters.com

Leave a Reply