The world spent about $366 Billions on various leadership development programs. Yet, there is still no consensus even on the basic question of “What exactly is leadership”. Too many leadership development initiatives rest on the assumption that one size fits all and that the same group of skills or style of leadership is appropriate regardless of strategy, organizational culture.
My own leadership survey (https://www.onbecomingaleader.net/survey) indicates that while over 82% of respondents stated that they’d asked themselves why they wanted to be leaders, only 39% of their organizations ever asked the same question! It is consistent with the hypothesis that organizations do not spend enough time and effort in understanding what motivate their aspiring leaders: leadership development intitiatives are often organization focused, rather than people focused. As a result, they tend to focus on leadership skills, rather than instilling courage and conviction to be leaders. Until that we can close that 40% gap between what organization wants vs. what aspiring leaders need, you are not going to have a motivated team that people can bring their whole selves to work. This is especially true during time of change or time of crisis as we are currently going through the pandemic.
Aspiring leaders need to take ownership of their own leadership development, rather than relying on organizations for your development. No one else can understand your internal motivations for why you do what you do. Only you can chart your own unique path, control your own destiny, tell your own leadership story.
Dr. Xinjin Zhao, a recently retired executive with extensive global business experience and always passionate about leadership development. He started his career in technology and subsequently led various aspects of business including global P&L responsibility for ExxonMobil Catalyst and Licensing business. He also spearheaded the development of the largest ExxonMobil investment in China, a multibillion dollar petrochemical complex. He personally attended multiple negotiation meetings with Premier Li Keqiang, Vice Premier Han Zheng and other national and provincial leaders. As a technology scouting and venture executive, he also worked with many startup companies around the world.
Born in China and educated at MIT (Ph.D.) and Wharton (Executive MBA), he always has the curiosity to try, the passion to learn and the willingness to share. Apart from his business success, Xinjin is also an empathetic people leader and excels at fostering an environment that allows people to flourish and develop to their fullest potential. He has a range of outside interests including reading, running, and photography. He completed thirteen full marathons in the last thirteen years. Xinjin also maintains a weekly LinkedIn blog with over 268K subscribers around the world on topics ranging from leadership, innovation, culture, running, and photography. He is particularly interested in observing and studying the similarities and differences between different cultures and seeing how different societies find solutions to the common problems we face.