The literature on leadership is voluminous and, frankly, bereft of new ideas. Enter Richard Hytner and his new book Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows.
I’ve known Richard for over a decade, he’s been part of my global leadership team at Saatchi & Saatchi for all of this time, first as CEO of EMEA and for the past seven years as Deputy Chairman of the company with a focus on innovation, sustainability, client consulting, and inculcating our network with Lovemarks. As he tells us in his book, his role as a supportive leader has enabled a more satisfying experience and effective contribution. Hence his revelation that leadership can come equally from the shadows as in the limelight. I rely on Richard for his strategic counsel, straight-up common sense, and his unique sense of cautionary affirmation. He is a consiglierie, and every man and woman in the hot seat at the top of an organization needs one or a few of this special breed close at hand, not only for their judgment but for their abilities to deliver.
Consiglieri is an original and highly imaginative contribution to the leadership journey. Most of the literature is about the leader (the “A”) or on teams. Richard focuses on the “C” – the consiglierie – and the operational (and emotional) relationship between the A and the C. He sources stories and learnings from business, politics, sport, theatre and calls up a colourful and compelling cast of characters from history and the current day to embellish his theoretical framework. There are an array of devious deputies to spice the story but the emphasis throughout is on the virtuous nature of the role: enablement of organizational purpose, intricate support for the complex and sometimes troublesome business of leading any sort of organization, and out-of-left-field thinking that is vital in the process of continuous improvement and transformation.
Consiglieri has rightfully received significant attention in the press following its UK launch, and now in the US. It’s a valuable book for everyone in the C-suite.