The discussion on leadership continues at pace; everyday commentators talk about leadership in a variety of forums. Almost daily new books and videos are released claiming to know the leadership answers. However, amid all that is written and discussed the question remains; what is good leadership and what makes a good leader?
Rajeev Vasudeva the global CEO of Egon Zehender, the executive search firm, has some interesting insights. He said in a recent interview that “no longer is the past the best predictor of future success, the task of leadership is changing dramatically.”
He cites four markers that Egon Zehender uses in their search for CEO’s: curiosity, insight, engagement and resilience.
Leaders have to be committed to life-long learning to remain fresh and aware of current thinking. From our decade and a half of experience of working with senior leaders curiosity is essential if leaders are to be able to see where future change in their industry is coming from.
Insight is important as the amount of information continues to grow with ever increasing speed. Leaders have to be able to synthesise the myriad of information in front of them drawing out what is essential to provide the guidance they require to make the short, medium and long term decisions needed to insure the sustainability of their organisations.
Vasudeva believes a leader’s ability to engage with a wide range of stakeholders is critical. Leaders have to be able to work cross-culturally and to emotionally connect with people at any organisational level. It’s about being more inclusive and collaborative.
His fourth point is about leaders being resilient which stems from the ambiguous, uncertain and often volatile situations leaders have to address. Some situations they have to contend with are complex and challenging, fuelled by the ever increasing pace of change. A leader has to be able to adapt and correct.
We would add a fifth marker, diversity; diversity in the sense of the expansiveness and quality of a leader’s network. Effective leaders have diverse networks that extend beyond their business and industry sector. We find leaders who maintain a narrow focus find it challenging to innovate and lead and manage change.
While sharing these markers, as he terms them, Rajeev Vasudeva offered one final interesting observation. Leaders need to have bigger purpose; acting out of self-interest will not endear leaders to stakeholders. Leaders have to act for all, not just a select few.
We suggest that these markers are not a definitive answer for today’s leaders. Now that you have read what we have shared we are interested in you sharing other valuable insights you believe are essential for today’s leaders. We look forward to you adding to the on-going conversation about what is good leadership and what makes a good leader.
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