(originally published by Booz & Company)

Best of Multimedia: Why Leaders Should Think Like Psychiatrists

Hear how an adaptive style of leadership—like Nelson Mandela’s—can inspire people to work together in solving their thorniest problems.

While listening to the good old-fashioned radio recently, I happened upon a fascinating interview with Ronald Heifetz of Harvard Kennedy School. Heifetz pioneered the theory of adaptive leadership in the 1990s, drawing from his own experiences as an emergency room doctor.

In this conversation, Heifetz says leaders should think like psychiatrists—as opposed to problem-solving surgeons. “In psychiatry, when a person comes to you with a problem, it's not your job actually to solve their problem,” he notes. “It's your job to develop their capacity to solve their own problem.”

Heifetz and former Greek prime minister George Papandreau offer several compelling examples, including how ordinary Greeks and Turks helped mend the rift between the two countries and Nelson Mandela’s Truth and Reconciliation band-aid in post-apartheid South Africa. Politics aside, business leaders can certainly glean some important nuggets from this interview about how to empower others to solve the seemingly unsolvable.


Lessons In Leadership: It's Not About You. (It's About Them)
Click here to listen to the interview

 

Charity Delich

Charity Delich is the marketing & public relations manager of strategy+business.

 
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