Insights for Leaders

Fox vs. Hedgehog

Posted on: November 21st, 2011 | 0 Comments

“Management is about coping with complexity. Leadership, by contrast, is coping with change. More change demands more leadership.” — John Kotter

In 1953, Isaiah Berlin wrote a famous essay, “The Hedgehog and the Fox,” (taken from an ancient Greek parable) that observed: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”

Jim Collins writes in best seller Good to Great, “Hedgehogs are not stupid. Quite the contrary. They understand that the essence of profound insight is simplicity….They have a piercing insight that allows them to see through complexity and discern underlying patterns.”

The fox represents management that is constantly aware of many complexities and options, while the hedgehog represents leaders who simplify a complex world into a single concept that unifies and guides everything.

The Bottom Line: Leaders simplify complexity with piercing insight that enables them to effectively lead through change.