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Over the last few weeks, I’ve examined the general dissatisfaction many of us feel for the leadership we experience in our daily lives, and painted a compelling picture of what we can gain if we lift the bar on leadership; improved work satisfaction and team member engagement, and more successful transformation and adaptation of our organisations and institutions.

These are however, not the only situations when leadership is needed or why leadership is important. This week I’ll be focusing heavily on productivity outcomes, and how we all benefit from the performance gains we can realise when we have better leadership around us and in our organisations.

Let's face it. The tough but unavoidable reality today is that most leaders are being asked to lift the bar on the performance every year. Faster innovation, better quality, improved service, and greater productivity, all at a lower cost. It sure isn’t easy to deliver year on year but deliver we must.

For not-for-profits that can deliver on these demands it means better service delivery, more efficient use of scarce resources and more people positively impacted, allowing everyone involved to live their purpose more fully. For corporates it means more satisfied customers, better sales, and superior shareholder returns, in turn attracting more investment capital to support growth and further success.

Of course, the relationship between leadership and performance has been conclusively proven (see Knies, Jacobsen and Tummers ‘Leadership and Organisational Performance’ for a comprehensive summary). And so, a critical insight begins to emerge.

No matter where you work, leadership is advantage. Better leaders produce better results, and for anyone interested in organisational success (which is everyone), this is why leadership is important.


In fact, for those who wish to improve team and organisational performance, a powerful mechanism for shifting the performance curve starts to reveal itself. As the diagram below illustrates, when you shift the relative distribution of ordinary to extraordinary leadership in any organisation you create performance advantage. What’s more, for any organisation, commercial or not-for profit that has to compete for finite resources such as funding and talent, better leadership provides competitive advantage.

The bottom line is that extraordinary leadership provides extraordinary advantage.

The fact is that regardless of the lens through which we view the status quo – engagement and satisfaction, our ability to adapt and change, or our desire to produce better outcomes - we are yearning for something different; a version of leadership we can more fully trust, engage with and follow.

Whilst I have spent much of my career seeking to understand this more extraordinary version of leadership - what it looks like, what it can do and how we can cultivate more of it - the acceleration of change and challenges of the last several years only heightened my desire and sense of urgency to find answers.

In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing some of what I have found and reported on in my book Xtraordinary: The Art and Science of Remarkable Leadership – what extraordinary looks like, what it is capable of and how we can all learn to do it.


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