Because they are victims of short-term economic pressures and "parochial politics", most American companies critically lack the one factor proven effective in winning competitive advantage: leadership. Thus argues John P. Kotter in this, his third large-scale work on leadership, which continues and complements the work begun in his influential "The General Managers" and "Power and Influence". With compelling evidence, Kotter demonstrates why most American firms do not have the leadership capacity they currently need and explains what they must do to correct this damaging problem.
Using comprehensive data from 900 senior executives in 100 American corporations, as well as in-depth interviews with 150 top managers in fifteen successful companies, including General Electric, Citicorp, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Coca-Cola, Kotter singles out the practices that develop superior leadership. He identifies both the specific personal attributes and general leadership qualities needed in today's corporations. And, with the spotlight on such individuals as Lee Iacocca at Chrysler and teams like the top management at Johnson & Johnson, he vividly illustrates the four factors that create outstanding leadership in both private and public sector senior and middle level managers.
Professor Kotter underscores his argument with glaring examples of managerial failures in firms like ITT, providing eye-opening evidence of damage-- inability to control sagging productivity and poor records in customer service, quality control, and the development of new products-- caused primarily not be poor R&D or labor problems, but by a weak leadership capacity. Filled with dozens of case histories, "The Leadership Factor" reveals an all-too-common picture of companies which, unable to recognize or develop leadership talent and utilize it, create a pervasive gap in corporate planning and personal management.
Progress has been made in improving quality management, but is has been limited. Kotter is hard-hitting in his assessment that even American companies which achieve a superior level of success in the leadership area-- IBM, DuPont, Dow Jones, Hewlett-Packard, and Anheuser-Busch, for example, must do even better to match efforts of foreign competitors. In showing how leaders are made, not born, he provides a realistic program structured to help attract, retain, and motivate dynamic, capable leaders in executive and middle management positions. Following Kotter's advice, companies can build strong managerial teams necessary not only for growth-- but also for survival itself.