Leadership – the short and the long


Recently I was asked to reflect on leaders I had worked with and what made them successful (or not). There were a number of things that came to mind but the way I like to characterise their skills is in terms of short and long lever.

Short lever skills are the interpersonal skills that allow the leader to influence and motivate people on a one to one basis. Long lever skills are the skills that enable the leader to influence and motivate a group of people – usually done through systems, processes and communications to the masses.

Ideally a great leader will have both great short and long lever skills; though a leader can be successful as long as they are strong in one of the levers. When it comes to organisational transformation,  I believe long lever skills are paramount. In fuelling growth through engagement, short lever skills – particularly in dealing with direct reports, is all important.

It is interesting to observe various leaders and see whether they use short or long lever skills in achieving their goals.

If you had to choose only one?

Probably the further up the chain of command that you go, the more important long lever becomes. But, honing both short and long lever skills is important for aspiring and seasoned leaders alike.

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