Leading Beyond Authority

Common Purpose aims to inspire, develop and connect leaders who can lead beyond their direct area of authority – at work, in their communities and in their cities.


What is leading beyond authority?

Most leaders establish their reputation inside their organisations, where they are given the authority to lead. But when they look to extend their leadership across the organisation - or outside it - the skills that have brought them success are suddenly not enough. The rules change - and the strategies need to change too. On Common Purpose courses around the world, our participants learn a new approach to leadership: one that can cope in unfamiliar territory, where authority has to be earned; that will take leaders beyond the closed world of their own organisations and make them effective in the outside world too. This provides them with a powerful set of new tools relevant to any leader, at any level, in any organisation.

In 2007, Julia Middleton wrote Beyond Authority drawing on the experiences of many leaders who had contributed to Common Purpose programmes over the years, sharing their experiences of leading beyond their authority.

The following is an extract from the Foreword, written by Sir David Bell:

It happens again and again. Bright, aggressive managers move quickly up an organisation and then, quite suddenly, find themselves becalmed. The skills that seemed to be serving them so well are just not enough. We have all seen the heads shake. He, or she, is "not very good with people" or "doesn't seem able to see the wood for the trees" or "is not very good at lateral thinking".

We know what this really means. They may be great, but somehow they are not quite leaders. Someone once said that there are actually three kinds of people: leaf people who just see leaves, tree people who see leaves and trees and, far more rarely, forest people who understand that leaves and trees make up forests and that forests are very different.

Julia is a forest person. And her book, Beyond Authority, is about what makes forest people, why they matter more than ever and what it takes to become one.

"The view from your office window seldom changes. If we want our leaders to see the bigger picture, they have to go out and see the world through other people's eyes."

Sir David Bell
Chairman, Financial Times Group

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