Tough-minded Leadership

Key Idea

Tough-minded leaders focus on performance. They expect excellence; holding themselves and others accountable for results. Being tough-minded does not mean the leader must be gruff or never smile. It means the leader has the courage to pull the team in a particular direction – with tenacity, resilience and flexibility (words that characterize what toughness is).

Book to Read

Consensus is not Kumbaya: Lessons in Tough-Minded Leadership
by Rand Golletz (2011)

Quick Take from the Book

The idea of a tough-minded leader was popular in the mid-1980s, especially in the world of business, where managers, including those at GE under Jack Welch, began to establish personal and team “stretch goals.” In many ways, this approach sought to replace MBO (management by objectives) with MBE (management by expectations).

Quote of Note

"Leadership requires a certain toughness. Expectations are far stronger than directives, and they achieve much greater results. It takes a tough-minded leader to lead by expectations. It requires courage to take risks, to change attitudes, to stick your neck out and walk in front of the flock."
– from Joe Batten, in his book Tough-Minded leadership (1989)

Related Styles: Real Leadership, Results-based Leadership

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