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How many times have you seen a leader embrace decline within their company with positive and inspirational energy?
It’s not a common occurrence. After all, through our traditional view of leadership, only a weak CEO would enter a period of decline in this way. Good leadership is all about growth, strength and power. Isn’t it?
I’m a senior fellow in management practice at Oxford’s Saïd Business School and I believe we should flip this thinking on its head. Imagine this scenario: A leader of an oil company has a dial in front of them, and on that dial they could speed up the decline of fossil fuels in favor of allocating more capital to renewable energy.
If they turned that dial, would you consider them a weak leader?
Or if a CEO of a food manufacturing company used the dial to speed up the decline of excess sugar and salt in the food products it supplies to grocery stores—without being pressured by regulators. Is that weak leadership?
Or if the leader of a bottled water company turned the dial to accelerate the decline of unsustainable plastic bottles. Is that a weak leader?