For all of the billions organizations invest each year in “leadership development,” a criminal amount of human potential is left on the table. Training and development programs almost universally focus factory-like on inputs and outputs: absorb curriculum, check a box; learn a skill, advance a rung...
Remember that classic New Yorker cartoon with Rover sitting in front of a computer? The caption read, “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.” Well, on the web, no one knows you’re a senior vice president either. That’s why every leader is going to have to learn how to get things done in a world where authority is the reciprocal of followership.
Never before has leadership been so critical, and never before has it seemed in such short supply. That's why we're delighted to announce the Leaders Everywhere Challenge today. The second leg of the 2012-13 HBR/McKinsey M-Prize calls for real-world case studies and bold hacks that demonstrate how we can dramatically expand the leadership capacity of all of our organizations by both redistributing power in a way that gives many more individuals an opportunity to lead, and equipping and energizing people to lead even when they lack formal authority.
We live in a world where never before has leadership been so necessary but where so often leaders seem to come up short. Our sense is that this is not really a problem of individuals; this is a problem of organizational structures—those traditional pyramidal structures that demand too much of too few and not enough of everyone else.