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Kotter on Leadership
(Interview with Kotter)

ICMR India ICMR India ICMR India

Interview by -  Pradip Sinha,
Associate Consultant,
ICMR (IBS Center for Management Research).

John Kotter is an expert on leadership at the Harvard Business School. He is regarded as a well-renowned speaker in the world on the topics of leadership and change. He is the author of 15 books, a collection that has given him more honors and awards than any other writer on the topics of leadership and change. His four most recent books include The Heart of Change (2002), John P Kotter on What Leaders Really Do (1999), Matsushita Leadership, (1998), and Leading Change (1996). His articles in the Harvard Business Review have sold more than a million and a half reprints. His books have been printed in over 90 foreign language editions with total sales approaching two million copies. Kotter's other honors include an Exxon Award for Innovation in Graduate Business School Curriculum Design, and a Johnson, Smith & Knisely Award for New Perspectives in Business Leadership. In October 2001, Business Week magazine conducted a survey of 504 enterprises, which rated kotter as No.1 "Leadership Guru" in America.

What according to you is the difference between a leader and a manager?

It's more useful to talk about leadership versus management, since some people do both. Management takes what exists and keeps it under control, efficient, on time. Leadership creates the new and takes what currently exists and helps it adapt to change. Management has to do with planning, budgeting, organization, staffing, problem solving, and controls. Leadership is more concerned with vision, strategy, communication, buy-in, motivation, and empowerment.

What role does a leader play in an organization's long-term stability and growth?

If an organization is in a totally stable environment and has a strong position in that context, it doesn't need leadership. You don't need anything new. But in a changing world, where adaptation is essential, leadership is essential.

Does one need to be a born leader or can he/she be groomed over time?

Leadership skills are both inherent and developed over time. Potential varies greatly in the population, and is often unrecognized. How much that potential is developed and used also varies widely, with not enough development or use, too often being the norm.

Are there any thoughts/views you would like to share with us?

Too many organizations are over-managed and under-led. This does not help anyone. Too many people think leadership is the bosses' job, not their own. That doesn't help either. Both need to change, and can change.

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