A leadership cookbook for the VUCA world



A practical way to resolve the long raging debate about the birth or creation of leaders is to say that there are several examples to justify the two paths to leadership. This three-part series, however, will focus on the most useful path for most of us as we seek to become good and effective leaders, that is, working to become one of those leaders. As a sketch of the series:

1. The context will be that of becoming a “business leader” although many, if not all of the points described are helpful in achieving leadership in any chosen profession, be it social, political or religious.

2. The emphasis will be on the “characteristics” of a good leader and less on the “styles” – which we may be familiar with because the “styles” are taken for granted whereas the characteristics could be relatively more hidden and therefore less accessible.

In addition, all good leaders share almost a common set of “characteristics” while having different “styles” of leadership. For example, Mahatma Gandhi and General Patton had very different styles of leadership; However, it can be argued that they shared many common characteristics such as determination, possession of effective verbal and non-verbal communication skills, penchant for action, use of symbolism, etc.

3. Finally, good leaders know their target audiences very well, they also know themselves very well and also consciously strive to know everything around them such as the other stakeholders, the business environment, the competition. , etc.

This three-part series focuses on what an individual, who wants to become an effective leader, should consider practicing consistently over a considerable period of time in their quest to become an effective leader. “How long should this practice last?” One might ask, and the rhetorical answer will be: becoming an effective leader is a journey and not a destination in itself!

Needless to say, this series is not about horrible leaders who rule by fear – a very disturbing contemporary quintessential characteristic that is sadly on a global scale and dominates all spheres of society.

General characteristics of an effective leader

As the first characteristic of leadership, the word “wise” comes to mind in almost all human civilization – contemporary and regardless of geography.

Second, effective leaders appear to be calm and unaffected by conditions around them rising or falling. They walk towards their vision with “impassivity”, at a steady pace with quiet conviction, observing but not overreacting to the events around them.

Third, effective leaders are disciplined people. They put in place a process and stick to a routine every day that increases their ability to think calmly and react differently from others. They are consistent and aware in their speech and actions – always trying to leave a memorable impact

Finally, effective business leaders are always very keen to understand their customers very intimately so that they can leverage their organizational capabilities and the overall environment to meet the expressed and unspoken needs of customers. Their curiosity to understand customers is both insatiable and contagious.

Successful business leaders instinctively embrace what Peter Drucker said in his book The practice of management that there is only one goal in any business: to create a customer.

Who is a “wise” leader?

Wise people are characterized by their attractive calm towards themselves.

They consciously develop this quality by “watching” their thoughts and deciding whether they should be expressed in word or deed or just let them go, saying or doing nothing – making that “wise” choice. This is how effective leaders maintain and exhibit good emotional health.

Second, “wise” leaders also take care of their personality and physical appearance to leave a favorable visual impression. This can only happen through a conscious routine around fitness, eating, and personal grooming aligned, of course, with what their target customers “value”.

If the target customers are impoverished and hungry, then one needs to identify with them by bridging the visual dissonance and carefully developing an appropriate physical personality. It will only be “wise” to consider developing an appropriate personality to empathize and improve target acceptance even before uttering a word or doing an act.

Steve Jobs

We’ve all seen Steve Jobs’ dress code of a black t-shirt with blue jeans – a standard that continues to this day in the tech world.

Finally, a “wise” leader is an avid listener, keen observer, and voracious reader (we see statements such as: Elon Musk recommends reading these 20 books; Bill Gates recommends a list of books for Christmas, etc.) the mind to absorb various information and assimilate it in its own way and to consciously harness knowledge at the appropriate times.

Objectivity and curiosity

In addition to having incisive analytical and logical skills, they also possess the objectivity and curiosity to seek clarifications (not preferred theories) and the intellect to interpret and obtain actionable information. “Wise” leaders have a unique way of interpreting external information which in most cases will appear to be “counterintuitive” but ultimately turn out to be the “wisest” thing that has been done.

For example, the famous Intel Pentium hardware bug disaster of 1994 nearly wiped out Intel even though the likelihood of the bug occurring in personal computers was extremely low (likelihood of occurring once in 27,000 years of spreadsheet use).

Andy grove

Andy Grove, then chairman and CEO of Intel, decided to recall millions of Intel Pentium chips and replace them for free because he realized that his customer segment – home users – was not. not technically aware of appreciating the “improbability” of the bug and that “facts cannot sell” to these customers. To restore credibility, Andy Grove, dispassionately and perhaps even illogically, interpreted the situation as “serious” and took the call to simply replace all the chips for free, which cost the company millions of dollars. dollars, estimated at $ 475 million. 1994.

This seemingly “impartial and illogical” action on his part is now recognized by several academics and business leaders as the reason Intel still has a future.

A “wise” leader is one who is keenly aware of the value of physical, emotional and intellectual health, and invests consistently and systematically in their development.

(The author is a managing partner of CorEssentials).



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