The Value Creators Episode #24. Amanda Goodall on The Power Of Expert Leaders

In our ongoing series investigating leadership in business – coming from the skeptical perspective of “Is there such a thing?” – we meet Amanda Goodall, a professor of leadership at Bayes Business School, City University of London, specializing in the influence of leaders and managers on performance, shares insights from her book “Credible: The Power of Expert Leaders.” 

She has a new perspective on business leadership. It’s not a general management function that can be taught in an MBA course. It can’t be learned from leadership courses. It can’t be implemented by management consulting firms. Leaders must first be experts in their field and the core business of the firm.

Amanda shares the importance of experts in providing a clearer sense of purpose and fostering a longer-term organizational perspective. The dialogue concludes with a call to establish expert-friendly environments, and emphasizes the removal of impediments to harness expertise for organizational success.


Knowledge Capsule:

Evolution of Management:

  • Amanda discusses the historical transition from individuals working their way up through the industry to the influence of Taylorism in the 1940s.
  • Taylorism introduced a hierarchical structure, separating workers from managers, marking a significant change in organizational dynamics.

Role of Business Schools – making leadership generic and generalized:

  • Highlighting the initial existence of business schools that provided specialized education tailored to specific industries.
  • Business schools transitioned towards offering more general degrees, such as MBAs, contributing to a generic approach to leadership and management.

Management Consulting Firms – promoters of generic leadership:

  • Management consulting firms became promoters of generic leadership principles, differing from business schools.
  • The irony is that these firms, despite promoting generic leadership, are led by individuals who are internal experts, having worked their way up within the organization.

Metrics Obsession and Bureaucracy:

  • Amanda emphasizes that metrics and measurements control more and more aspects of the business. Where non-experts don’t understand the core business, they use metrics for assessing performance.
  • This results in a metric-obsessed and bureaucratic approach, impairing decision-making processes.

Importance of Expert Leadership:

  • Expert leadership contributes to a clearer sense of purpose within organizations.
  • Expert leaders win the respect of those they work with, precisely because of their expertise, and create a more collaborative and collegial workplace.
  • Expert leaders are more likely to invest in research and development, contributing to a longer-term organizational perspective.

Creating Expert-Friendly Organizations:

  • Amanda emphasizes that expert-friendly organizations recognize and cater to the needs of core workers, valuing their expertise.
  • Expert-friendly organizations can remove unnecessary barriers to expert direction, such as excessive rules and bureaucracy, to create an expert-friendly work environment.
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