When Being Second is First Choice
In the pages of Fast Company, Worldwide Deputy Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi Richard Hytner posits why being at the top doesn’t necessarily mean being the one in charge. In a provocative article titled “Why Second In Command Can Have More Influence Than The CEO,” the author of Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows and Adjunct Professor of Marketing at the London Business School describes how a generational “C-change” in leadership just might be taking place.
“Millennials see opportunities for growth and leadership in new ways that extend beyond the hierarchy,” writes Hytner. “Their evolving attitude and appetite for multiple jobs in their lifetime is supported by data from the Emerging Leaders Program at London Business School. Leadership today should be viewed as a lateral adventure—not a linear journey.”
This shift in ideas about leadership challenges the traditional, “winner take all” mentality that if you’re not striving to be number one, you lack either ambition, guts, or both. In his Fast Company article—something of a précis of his most recent book—Hytner suggests that if always-on, adrenaline-driven As are all about “the thrill of having to make the final call,” Cs are often granted more time and space to think, the opportunity to create and shape outcomes, and the satisfaction of mentoring and helping others. Knowing what kind of leadership role best suits an individual is as simple—and challenging—as knowing oneself.
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