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The Twin Pillars of Effective Leadership Premium

The Magnet and the Hammer

Leggett, Brian O'Connor; Neill, Conor

Date: Third Quarter 2010

Tags: magnet, hammer, vision, charisma, threats

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During periods of crisis or disenchantment, charismatic leaders emerge because they offer an alternative to the uncertainty of the times. Such was the case in the 1980s with Ronald Reagan, whose clear message and emotional style held across-the-board appeal and provided a sense of certainty after years of political and social turbulence. Using case studies of prominent leaders of the past 50 years, the authors explore the keys of effective leadership. In business as in politics, managers can use the challenges of the current uncertain times to inspire others and lead change. To do this, they need two important tools: the magnet and the hammer. Magnet actions include vision, storytelling, charismatic speaking and role modeling, which create a pull toward a destination. Hammer actions include direct orders, threats, control systems, hiring and promotions, job definition and financial incentives that drive change directly. Four practices that will help leaders develop skill with these tools are: developing a personal vision; articulating that vision in a way that connects powerfully with your audience; following through on your promises; and then making sure everyone else fulfills their part of the bargain. The authors offer practical tips to help managers go further, and urge them to put their magnet and hammer into practice in various non-work settings, too. By following the examples of yesterday’s leaders, you can become a visionary leader of tomorrow.

Tools and Frameworks:
> “The Leadership Toolkit” lists the various leadership actions that a manager must master in order to create a pull toward a destination (magnet) and to drive change directly (hammer).
> “The Art of Persuasive Communication” offers 10 tips that differentiate powerful speakers from the rest.

Examples Cited:
Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Barack Obama

Research Basis:
The authors conducted 10 years of research on the style of effective leaders, using case studies of prominent personalities, to extract some key lessons for developing the magnet and the hammer.

About the Authors:
Brian Leggett is a professor in the Department of Managing People in Organizations at IESE Business School.

Conor Neill is a lecturer in the Department of Managing People in Organizations at IESE Business School.

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