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What if the codes that lead to success were changing? Do today’s leaders have the same profile as the leaders of GenY? Perhaps not!

Management patterns are influenced by the inevitable transformation of most corporate companies, digital or not. Now, we’re entering the CO-era: CO-llaborative, CO-construction, CO-working, CO-llective intelligence. And the discussion of well-being rather than psychosocial risks is becoming more and more relevant within HR departments. More and more companies are concerned about their latest Great Place to Work ranking so that they can convey a more positive image.

Holacracy is trendy and examples such as Semco in Brazil, Gore and Zappos in the US, Happy Computer in the UK and Favi in France are strong signals showing that success can be a posture issue.

Management isn’t simply based on hierarchical or matrix organisations, as most employees will change roles depending on contexts and projects – and their human environments will change, too! Individual performance isn’t the only KPI; collective contributions are equally valued.

Leaders alternatively position themselves as project leader or contributor. And they will rely more on their vision, agility and hindsight than on natural charisma. Success requires exposure and commitment, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be loud!

Depending on the type of leader, impact can vary. But it isn’t necessarily stronger for charismatic leaders with wide media coverage. More discreet CEOs will get the same exposure through their posture and commitment to key issues. Exposure isn’t directly linked to the number of contacts on LinkedIn, the volume of tweets or presence on Facebook. Thank God for that!

Social media sites provide valuable support for creating exposure, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Social commitment, attendance to professional group meetings on behalf of your firm, on or offline press release on major topics, interviews, books, contributions to alumni networks, think-tanks and conferences can be even more significant – or at least complementary.

This is where posture makes a difference and it doesn’t just depend on the leader’s personality.

An extroverted leader will probably naturally connect to his network. His charisma shows in the way he talks. If he’s got the ability to listen and show empathy, he will also find it easier to make tough decisions and he will get total support from his teams on the projects that he leads.

The risk for these divisive leaders (we either love them or can’t stand them) is that they might value form over substance and lose impact in the end.

Less noise or exposure doesn’t mean less success! French CEOs from top company groups such as Edouard Michelin (Michelin tyres) or Jean-Charles Naouri (Casino hypermarkets) are excellent examples. Their reserved attitude is often intimidating and acts as self-protection against tricky issues that would require emotional treatment from them.

According to Eric Albert, a psychiatrist involved in coaching top CEOs, “5 key words emerge from observing the natural leaders: substance, emotion, empathy, excellence and humility.” And he rightly feels that, “every leader should find the best format to express his own leadership and he will eventually find it according to his own personality!”

The awareness that there’s not a unique road to success, but that the key issue is taking into account your counterpart’s point of view to create the elements of a successful interaction, is rather reassuring.

A dose of optimism for introverts? Probably. But is it really an issue?

MARC SAUNDER, NEXMOVE  (Arbora Partner in France)

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