Alvaro Carcel Tribune.
In the business field, there is extensive literature on the concept of leadership. What is a leader? What qualities does a good leader have? And a bad leader? When we talk about leadership ability, what does it mean?
Obviously, there are a number of qualities or characteristics that the vast majority of us would agree on. For example, as a general rule, empathy is usually considered a quality of a good leader, just as we would attribute "micromanagement" to a bad leader.
But there is no obvious answer to the above questions. If so, good leaders would abound. And it seems that is not the case. In fact, a recent study by the World Economic Forum indicates that 86% of those surveyed affirm the existence of a lack of leadership in their organizations by management teams. Nothing more and nothing less.
On the other hand, I firmly believe that there is no universal concept of “good leadership”; Depending on the context, moment or culture of the organization, one type of leadership or another will work better. For example, leading a company in full expansion is not the same as leading a company going through a reputational crisis that has led to losses and downsizing.
We are going through a noisy, turbulent period. There's a lot of noise out there. Covid, supply crisis, political and territorial tensions, inflation, possible real estate bubble, digitization, blockchain, cryptocurrencies, metaverse... In short, it is a time where the only constant is instability. Heraclitus already predicted it 2500 years ago: the only constant is change.
And human beings, we have the propensity to imitate what we see around us. If the person next to us smiles, we smile back. If the person next to us raises their voice, we raise our voice. And this creates a certain environment.
And if the environment is noisy, should the leader respond with more noise?
It should be like that?
In my opinion, the answer is clear, and it is a resounding no.
In this article I claim silent leadership. And I mean those thoughtful, quiet, and humble people. Committed people, with the ability to execute the most tactical tasks in the short term with agility, but who maintain a long-term perspective, even and despite constant changes. People committed to a project, who do not jump from branch to branch, depending on how the wind blows or the fashions of the moment. People, who delegate because they trust. People who recognize their mistakes, and proactively seek feedback. People who, in the face of chaos, stop, breathe, reflect and adapt.
As in the legend of the oak and the rush, in which the strong oak mocked the rush: “I am great and I have powerful branches. How small and insignificant you are!” And we all know how each of them ended when the hurricane hit.
In short: it is clear that there are a series of qualities that have been predominant to date, and that have shaped the conception of leadership that still prevails today. Extraversion, charisma, passion, strong opinions, the ability to influence and impose points of view...all of these qualities can be positive, without a doubt. Especially in the right measure, and in certain environments more than in others.
But I think it's a good time to lower the tone, reduce decibels, observe, identify opportunities, and get to work with the teams, without seeking prominence. Convince, without imposing. Evolve and look forward, honoring what has been achieved to date.
And above all, focus the teams, helping them to do something so basic but so difficult: differentiate between what is important (strategy) and what is urgent (on many occasions, mere noise).