Evolving Leadership Concepts

by Edgardo Caramella

There are many different ways and even more opinions about how to lead groups of people. I have been in a leadership role for decades and I can attest that times have changed. The social and individual needs have changed and this forces us to rethink the ways we lead.

Modern man is not satisfied merely with gaining economic benefit. He needs to feel that he is part of the process he is participating in. Work should boost self-esteem and personal fulfillment, which is then projected into future achievements.

From my experience leading diverse groups, I would like to suggest that the first thing you do is leave behind the image of a hard and rigid leader, someone who constantly makes their position of power known through intimidation, giving orders and punishments to those who don’t submit to their directives.

Anyone who leads with intimidation is inevitably doomed for failure, will struggle to reach their goals or evolve as a leader. And, even worse, will be completely alone and isolated.

 

Today's leaders must build trust. They can no longer simply give orders and expect results. Instead, they need to develop the art of persuasion and achieve a synergy within the team of collaborators. A leader must be a facilitator, discovering the talents and skills of the team in order to direct those aptitudes towards the task at hand. They need to identify and focus the talents of the group, incite interaction that leads to the creation of a learning experience that progresses like a upward spiral.

Leaders must care for and meet the needs of coworkers, establishing human relationships built on trust, mutual support, interest in the task and personal evolution. In turn, the group of employees should be involved in every way, providing the physical, emotional and mental energies that promote an environment allowing the team to move together in the direction of the objective.

Among the many items a leader should share with the team, information is primary. There are those who do not share vital information with others out of fear or in an attempt to protect a perceived competitive advantage, creating a gap of knowledge that will only lead to lower group performance and disinterested collaborators. Information is fuel to the fire and, as such, must reach the group to become creative energy.

Today we have the technological tools to facilitate the flow of information, but we shouldn’t ignore the value of frequent personal encounters, how sincere eye contact, a handshake, hug, or conversation can strengthen bonds and serve as the flame that forges a genuine connection.

This does not mean that everyone should love each other deeply. It’s about generating connections, respect, strategic and smart partnerships that are above any emotional differences in order to carry out strategic planning and the realization of goals established as a guideline by the leader.

Another powerful element that solidifies and enhances a group’s cohesion is value. We must ensure that ethics, truth, solidarity, the application of basic concepts of good citizenship, tolerance and good manners all predominate within the organization. The leader must be a consistent example, constantly striving, available 24 hours and always training to be better. It’s essential that you continue to grow as a human being and share your knowledge with others.

I recommend using the context of "us" more and “me" less, as a way of thinking, being, feeling and expressing oneself. This allows the leader to maintain his status while achieving broader acceptance among his subordinates, preserving the emphasis on group synergy as well as the leader’s assigned authority.

Remember that authority only arises with the group’s acceptance of an individual as the most capable to lead. The power, however, is often obtained from circumstances that are not related to the ability of who has it.

The task of sharing information is essential because it generates acceptance, appreciation, and releases energy that will multiply exponentially.

The leader's job comes with great responsibility because the group being led incorporates the leader’s behaviors. This dynamic should be an asset and can be easily managed if the leader is sincere.

If we want to perform as good leaders, we must try to build the best version of ourselves as human beings. Work on what we are, to do what we do best!