Leadership in Science
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Leadership in Science book
During one of the many restructurings in the Commonwealth Scienti€c and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) that I referred to in the previous chapter, two divisions were to be amalgamated. The chiefs of these two divisions had a difference of opinion on how this should be done and went to see the chief executive of€cer (CEO). The CEO promptly told them to go away and come back once they had agreed on the new structure. A colleague of mine remarked that this was an example of leadership. Evidently what had impressed my colleague was the decisiveness of the CEO. This attribute of solving problems by making quick and €rm decisions is what is regarded by many as strong leadership. For me, this example was the antithesis of leadership. A good leader would have engaged the two chiefs, initially separately, to understand the position from where each was coming. Then, he or she would have tried to negotiate a compromise that would be acceptable to both so as to result in a win-win situation. To do this requires certain skills, but, above all,
this requires being able to listen receptively and to empathize with others. In environments where managerial tactics operate, these attributes are not easily found.