Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader

May 22, 2015 • Emerging Ideas, LEADERSHIP, Leadership Development

By Herminia Ibarra

In this excerpt from her book, Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader Herminia Ibarra discusses what she describes as the ‘Outsight’ Principle: the cycle of acting like a leader and then thinking like a leader; change from the outside in. She argues that people become leaders by acting their way into a leadership position.

The “Outsight” Principle: How to Act and Think Like a Leader

“I’m like the fire patrol,” says Jacob, a thirty-five-year-old production manager for a midsized European food manufacturer. “I run from one corner to the other to fix things, just to keep producing.” To step up to a bigger leadership role in his organisation, Jacob knows he needs to get out from under all the operational details that are keeping him from thinking about important strategic issues his unit faces. He should be focused on issues such as how best to continue to expand the business, how to increase cross-enterprise collaboration, and how to anticipate the fast-changing market. His solution? He tries to set aside two hours of uninterrupted thinking time every day. As you might expect, this tactic didn’t work.

Perhaps you, like Jacob, are feeling the frustration of having too much on your plate and not enough time to reflect on how your business is changing and how to become a better leader. It’s all too easy to fall hostage to the urgent over the important. But you face an even bigger challenge in stepping up to play a leadership role: you can only learn what you need to know about your job and about yourself by doing it—not by just thinking about it.


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