Scarcity of Leaders: 20 ideas for improvement
Leadership continues to be a fundamental issue as a competitive advantage for the success of companies and societies in these times of transformation and turbulence.
Addressing this topic again may seem “repetitive” as so much has already been written about it. However there are two factors I consider paradoxical:
-In a worldwide context, there is still a worrying lack of transformational leaders with an impact in the three areas (Administration, companies and NGOs) to meet 21st-century challenges with guarantees
–A technical and rational vision of leadership is still predominant at a time when there is much evidence that the most effective leadership integrates emotional elements and deep self-knowledge to inspire and achieve strategic impact.
A few weeks ago I attended an excellent leadership programme which led me to reflect further upon the reasons why it is not so easy to be a good leader and the opportunities we have within our reach if we change certain limiting beliefs.
Here are 20 ideas that may help us to improve in such a fundamental area.
1. The best leadership begins with self-leadership (in-depth knowledge of oneself) and it is “generative” (basing its influence on “being” and not just “doing”).
2. Leaders are clear about their values and purpose, and aim to provide their teams and society with a positive legacy.
3. Leadership is carried out at four levels: self-leadership, the team, the company and society. Each area is complemented and enriched by others with a view to maximizing impact and contribution.
4. In order to lead we must have a deep knowledge and appreciation of every team member and wisely combine the focus on business, results and people.
5. Leadership is something personal and non-transferable. Each person must find his or her unique formula of leadership
6. Emotional leaders are the most effective in that they are more open and “vulnerable” to relationships and feedback from other people and events.
7 Leadership is about relationships and conversations, as they allow us to acquire cohesion and shared vision in order to achieve collective success and personal fulfilment.
8. Leadership is situational and flexible, adapting to people and circumstances with a view to increasing their impact and effectiveness.
9. The best leaders have a vision of “abundance” and are capable of seeing opportunities and not just the risks.
10. Leaders know their strengths (differential skills) and areas of development (the “shadow” of the leader) and focus with energy and humility on improving every day.
11. Leaders combine rational analysis with intuition to identify the best solutions to complex problems.
12 Leadership is action and perseverance (never surrender) in overcoming the difficulties that may arise in any given project.
13 In order to lead you must effectively manage the “internal stress” inherent in the uncertainty and conflicts that occur on a day-to-day basis.
14. Leaders most often play to win and not to lose. This makes them more effective in detecting and seizing opportunities.
15. Leadership puts the focus on the short term (achieving annual results), but it also has a long-term outlook (contributing to a better world for the next generation and constructing its succession).
16. Curiosity and openness to change are key factors of leadership in the current context of rapid transformation and great complexity
17. Leaders integrate their teams in the co-creation of a shared vision and communicate this with optimism and exemplarity.
18. Leaders develop people and surround themselves with talented professionals, different to them and more proficient in certain aspects, in order to create a diverse and winning team.
19. In leadership slow is fast. Leaders do not act and react hastily, but rather calmly assesses the context and makes decisions with greater clarity and quality.
20 To lead means being responsible and exemplary, taking a step forward whenever required and with the sufficient courage to take difficult and necessary decisions.
We are living in a historic moment of multiple complex challenges in which technical leaders (or, in some cases, opportunistic or populist leaders) predominate over transformational leaders, with personal maturity and generous dedication to the common good.
And, at the same time, we can all be leaders in our field if we are determined enough. Demystifying leadership construed as something reserved for gurus or directors is a preliminary step for each of us to assume our responsibilities. To achieve this, we must begin with self-leadership and self-confidence, as, if we are not capable of leading ourselves, we will simply not be good leaders.
In the words of coach Daniel Poch, new leadership may be defined as “a genuine influence that provides value”. Focusing more on personal values and reinventing education at different academic and professional stages are critical factors.
Knowing yourself, defining an exciting life purpose and working with energy, humility, well balanced affection and empathy towards others are some of the ingredients of successful leadership in such turbulent times and an ever-changing new era.
David Reyero Trapiello – Senior HR Business Partner – Sanofi Iberia