Jesse Segers, co-director of the Expertise Center Leadership at Antwerp Management School presented his ideas on power, authority and the leaders of tomorrow in an interview with De Morgen. He states that, in the future, we will need leaders who know how to share their power. We are excited to share his most striking remarks.
“We desperately need to get rid of the cliché of the lone leader at the top”
The leader of tomorrow must know how to network with other leaders and share his power. The fact that someone who claims he can solve any problem success, like Trump, can be successful is linked to the problems of our modern-day society. In times of crisis, we fall back on our gut feeling, on fear or on nationalism, which is the root cause behind the success of the Trumps and Putins of this world. And yet it is usually the Merkels and Obamas that are successful in the long run. They look at the future and try to achieve innovation across the generations by building on the work of their predecessors. After all, it would be absurd to think that a single person would know how to make sense of our increasingly complicated world and change it on their own.
"Solid leadership is not a matter of nature but nurture."
‘Manager’ and ‘leader’ are not synonyms. The former occupies a position of authority that brings guidance, order and security, whereas leaders advocate forth change, which initially causes disappointment and unrest. And yet it’s the leaders we need to break new ground and create progress. Also, leadership is also not an innate talent, as is sometimes thought. Instead it is mostly passed on by one’s environment and can therefore be taught. As a result, there is no such thing as ‘leadership characteristics’.
"Vulnerability will become one of the great challenges for shared leadership"
Segers envisions the leader of tomorrow as someone who is not afraid to be vulnerable. The importance of authority is dwindling, giving way to authenticity. Employees want a leader who knows how to show empathy and doesn’t lock himself up in his ivory tower. This is also connected with the power wielded by these leaders: it may enable them to think abstractly or in the long term, but it also makes them less empathic and experience less engaging emotions that lead to cooperation (e.g. gratitude, compassion).
“A leader must be able to distance himself from his work”
Making all this happen will take introspection. Working without a frequent dose of reality has a negative impact. You need to plan activities enabling you to distance yourself from your work as a leader so you can reflect on your power and position. Yoga, nature walks or a night out with your old classmates are just a few examples of such activities.
“A good leader knows when to take a back seat for the greater good of the organization”
Another skill a good leader must possess is the ability to sell a story and vision without placing himself above the people in his organization. This is also part of shared leadership. Even though men are still at the top, women are not different with regard to leadership. They are, however, better at coaching, which will make them more suited for the future model of shared leadership. Yet there are men who are equally great at doing so. It are mainly the macho leaders who believe in one-upmanship that do not believe in shared leadership and will therefore disappear in the long run.
Do you need some extra inspiration to develop your leadership in 2017?Read these 5 survival tips!