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Why there’s no shortcut to good leadership


Many organisations think they can solve problems by giving their workers a recommended reading list or sending them on a one-day management programme. However, there is no magic pill for great leadership.

That’s a conclusion Roberta Matuson has arrived at after interviewing a number of executives for her book, The Magnetic Workplace (Nicholas Brealey, 2013).

Writing for Fast Company’s Co.LEAD blog, Matuson says the result of an attempted quick fix are usually disappointing.

Rather than relying on shortcuts, the author believes that the route to great leadership lies in the following factors:

1) Really getting to know your people. Matuson insists: “You have to be willing to put in the time to really get to know your people so that you can work with them to build on their strengths.”


She advises: “Put down your smartphone, walk around your desk, and invite one of your people to lunch.

“While dining, sit there and really listen to what your employee is saying. Ask them to describe their dreams and aspirations. Then go back to your office and come up with a plan to help this person and others achieve what is important to them.”

Great leaders, say Matuson, always give consideration to what they can do to support their workers.

2) Investing money required to achieve the desired results. Matuso says one of the biggest myths surrounding the attraction and retention of top talent is the notion that money isn’t essential. “This simply isn’t true,” she emphasises.

The author uses the analogy of top sports teams, which require continued investment in personnel to stay at the top. You need to spend the money to help workers achieve their full potential.

3) Don’t tell outside experts how to do their jobs. Matuso explains: “You wouldn’t go into your car dealer and tell him to change out the engine because you heard rumblings under the hood, would you?

“No, you’d ask the mechanic to take a look under the hood and diagnose the problem. You'd then ask what your options were.”

Outside advisors often see the bigger picture much clearer than those immersed in the firm. But they can’t help if you insist you know better or tell them how to do their job.


The author concludes: “Creating great leadership in your organisation requires a commitment from top to bottom.

“There is no pill for great leadership. If someone tries to sell you one as a prescription for what ails your organisation, get a second opinion.”

There Is No Magic Pill For Great Leadership
Roberta Matuson
Fast Company