What makes a great leader

The list of publications regarding “leadership “seems to be never-ending. How many exceptional examples should we be seeing in politics or economics, in scientific, religious, or other societal leadership roles? Leadership is a prominent quality and possessing many of the measurable skills ascribed to the ideal leader is a very special gift.

It all begins with the right kind of upbringing. The way you were raised instils and develops values and your surroundings enable living them. Trust and reliability, consideration, emotional and intellectual skills are imparted during this phase. Associating with others, enjoying success, reacting fittingly to difficulties and the unexpected, accepting and dealing with the consequences of one’s actions – all of these are rooted in the way you were brought up.

The logical implication of having been raised and educated well and having enjoyed an appropriate socialisation during one’s youth is that you will assume greater accountability than just for yourself.

Choosing one’s job and the way one’s career develops are heavily influenced by decisions made under uncertainty. Having alternatives means you have to run risks and make decisions.

Being happy in your chosen profession, growing and being successful, inspiring, motivating, promoting, electing, delegating, reporting, permitting, persuading, coping – all of these and more is what makes up a fulfilled professional life, which for most of us will only last 40-odd years

Claiming leadership means assuming responsibility (and not abusing power) – this involves skills, experience, values, and places great demands on the leader’s personality.

Exceptional leaders don’t create followers – they create more leaders (Tom Peters).

To me, this quote supplies a role model function, and calls for character strength, poise, and leadership skills. Any chief executive officer without acquired, experienced, or developed expertise regarding his company’s challenges will struggle. Strategy skills – especially in today’s dramatically changing markets (e.g. digitalisation) – are indispensable. The concomitant talent strategy is the all-important foundation for sustainability.

Here’s hoping that our leaders will receive independent, skilled, and experienced advice. Our world’s complexity keeps increasing and, particularly during difficult times, it can prove advantageous to debate the grey areas located between black and white, to discuss experiences, and substantiate risk decisions.

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