Tom Peters on leading the 21st-century organisation

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

  • “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.”
  • “Corporate culture is not part of the game: It is the game. You’ve got to do the corporate culture first.”
  • “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.”
  • 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 people development is Inner Leadership.

The book, Inner Leadership, is a recipe for fast-track, high-octane people-development, of ourselves and other people. It’s about creating people who connect strongly with their own purpose and values, who can keep calm and find the opportunities in a crisis, and who then have a framework to turn the best of those ideas into a vision that inspires them and other people to want to make it happen.

Once you’ve led yourself and defined the vision you are going to pursue, then you also need a 21st Century way of “organising your affairs … to provide some sort of service.” The way you do that in a time of constant change is by running your organisation as if it were a living organism. That is what Outer Leadership will show you how to do.

Buy the Book


Leave a Reply