Researchers have been interested in leadership traits for over a century. Hundreds of studies have been conducted, resulting in a basic consensus on leadership traits or characteristics that separate leaders from non-leaders. Today, among the key traits we often attribute to leaders, determination is one that can be seen in many who are influential and successful. The 19th-century German philosopher Frederick Nietzsche’s maxim “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger” can be applied to leaders of organizations today. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill offered slightly different advice to the students in his commencement speech at the Harrow School on October 29, 1941, when he said, “Never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” Antonio Horta-Osorio, the Portuguese banker who became CEO of Santander UK in 2006 and assumed the helm of Lloyds Banking Group in March, 2011, demonstrates the kind of attitude that Churchill’s speech describes. Horta-Osorio encountered serious personal problems that led the board to grant him a sabbatical from his leadership position at
the bank. An avid tennis player, a scuba diver who routinely encountered sharks, and a 12-hour-a-day banker, Horta-Osorio had been in his position at Lloyds for just eight months when he was granted a medical leave of absence to recover from insomnia and exhaustion, which were symptoms of stress. Confidential sources speculated that he was unable to meet the demands of the position—turning around a bank in trouble—and his inexperience in leading a large complex bank brought about his medical problems. Some financial pundits believed that he would never recover sufficiently to resume his leadership at the bank. However, on January 9, 2012, some two months later, Horta-Osorio proved them wrong. By his account, during his recovery process, he reflected on the experience and learned that all people are human with strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, since his return to the bank, he has managed to strengthen the bank’s position in the industry showing as a top performer among major British banks. Horta-Osorio’s persistence, in combination with other leadership traits, enabled him to succeed where non-leaders may not have. After getting a “reality check” on his personal and mental health, he persevered, developed his strategy, remained focused and spirited, and called on others for support, rather than succumb to the negativism of naysayers.
12-16. What leadership traits does Antonio Hotra-Osorio demonstrate as a result of his ability to resume his role at Lloyds Bank after such a personal issue?
12-17. Are there other examples of leaders who have been able to overcome such adversity? Who are
they? Did they approach the problem as HotraOsorio did?
12-18. To what degree is it possible to develop leadership traits? Are they innate? What are some ways one can develop persistence?
Sources: Stuart Taylor, “How to Build a Sustainable High-Performance Organization,” Inside HR, http://www.insidehr.com.au/how-to-build-a-sustainable-high-performance-organisation/; Andrea Ovans, “What Resilience Means, and Why It Matters,” Harvard Business Review, January 05, 2015, https://hbr.org/2015/01/what-resilience-means-and-why-it-matters; “Horta-Osório Steps Back at Lloyds,” FT.com, November 4, 2015, http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/98e28be2-0709-11e1-90de-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3niXjZBHC; Patrick Jenkins, “Tennis with the FT: António Horta-Osório,” FT.com, July 27, 2012, http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/f3a0c8e8-d6b9-11e1-ba60-00144feabdc0.html; James Quinn, “Antonio Horta-Osorio Is Leading Lloyds Back to Health with Aplomb,” The Telegraph, February 27, 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/11441430/Antonio-Horta-Osorio-is-leading-Lloyds-backto-health-with-aplomb.html; “Antonio Horta-Osorio Profile: The Banker Who Swims with Sharks and Had a Good Recession,” The Telegraph, November 10, 2011, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/8107440/Antonio-Horta-Osorio-profile-the-banker-who-swims-with-sharks-and-hada-good-recession.html; Jill Treanor, “Lloyds Boss Defends His Record as Four Years of ‘Doing the Right Thing’,” The Guardian, March 28, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/mar/28/lloyds-bossantonio-horta-osorio-defends-record; Dan Milmo, “Lloyds Bank Boss Horta-Osório Returning to Work after Sick Leave,” The Guardian, December 14, 2011, http://www.theguardian.com/business/2011/dec/14/lloyds-bank-antonio-horta-osorio-returns; Julia Werdigier and Landon Thomas Jr., “At Lloyds, a Bank and
Its Boss on the Rebound,” DealBook, December 27, 2013, http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/12/27/
at-lloyds-a-bank-and-its-boss-on-the-rebound/; Julia Werdigier, “Lloyds Chief, after Medical Leave, Turns Down Bonus,” DealBook, January 13, 2012, http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/01/13/lloyds-chiefturns-down-bonus/.
Go to mymanagementlab.com for the following Assisted-graded writing questions:
12-19. Considering the chapter and Case Incident 2, why would a personalized leadership development program be preferable to a best-practices teaching program?
12-20. Do you think leaders are more ethical now than ever before? Why or why not?
12-21. MyManagementLab Only – comprehensive writing assignment for this chapter.