Theorists often speak of management ‘tools’ when discussing resources. This Idea explores how successful leadership is based on two tools from the tool-shed, the magnet and the hammer, and shows how, with an understanding of why and when to use these tools, managers can effectively lead their teams through challenging circumstances.
The authors set out to examine the leadership tools required to help managers rise to new challenges faced during uncertain times. Using case studies of prominent leaders of the past 50 years, they explore the keys of effective leadership.
They find that in order to inspire others and lead change in difficult times, the two important tools needed are the magnet and the hammer– the dual aspects of executive leadership.
The authors found that successful leaders developed their magnets and hammers over time through experience in leadership positions, both inside and outside of professional settings; for example, it was Ronald Reagan’s experience as President of the Screen Actors Guild that helped him to hone his skills in the areas of negotiation and diplomacy
In order to become skilled at using these tools, leaders must identify the right one for a given challenge, and then actively follow through and apply it in the real world. The authors identify four practices they have noted in effective leaders that give them the clarity to choose and effectively use the right tools:
The authors advise that developing your magnet and hammer in other spheres is also a part of the learning cycle of becoming an effective leader. A leader may be all magnet but no hammer, or all hammer but no magnet. But the supreme goal should be to develop a balance of the magnet and the hammer within your own unique leadership style.
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