Theory

Insights About Leadership

Leadership is a wide-ranging concept. If you look on Amazon for inspiration about leadership, you will find over a million different books, ranging from leadership strategies till overviews of different leadership styles you must possess or use. Besides that, there is a lot of quality research that has been conducted on the topic, to the point where we can now know what a great leader looks like today.

In their book ‘Build it’ Debra Corey and Glenn Elliott write: ‘Leaders used to be hired and fired by their bosses. Now if they lose respect they can be rejected by the people they lead’. This is painfully true nowadays, as an example, the proof can be found on Glassdoor where employees rate their CEO’s. As the business world evolves at a rapid pace, so do the leaders at the helm.

According to Corey and Elliott more than ever, leaders need the support of their people. Their people are demanding leadership that is visible, accountable and valuable. They write: ‘We are moving from an era of command and control to a system of leadership by consent’.

Peter de Prins, professor at the Business School of Vlerick, shares that we are currently in the age of integrative leadership. “Integrative leadership is linked with the OQ. A good leader today has a high OQ, and OQ stands for Octopus intelligence.”

Besides that, a good leader is a integrative leader who is able to combine technology, wellbeing, structure, vision, but also personal awareness and meditation. All these elements play an important role in good leadership today. Being a good leader is not anymore just about you, your personality and behaviour, but it is seen as an inclusive process. It’s a position you take within the context of the organization and must blend with organizational processes.

For this reason, successful leadership differs per organization and scale-up leadership requires a specific approach. It all starts with knowing what you should be focused on as a leader, as in what you should focus on and what you should delegate. You can’t do everything yourself and trying to do so will be spreading out your productivity and lessen your vision. So when in doubt, stick with the research, which conveniently gives a road map to what you need to “own” as a leader according to professor de Prins.

What to own as a leader

1. Communication 2. Sensemaking 3. Change 4. Results 5. Culture 6. Structure

These immediately would lose their potency when skimping on any of these 6, or delegating them to someone else. Imagine a CEO who was assigning ‘Culture’ to someone as a task. As a leader you need to act as such, which means you lead the way into the future. If you are not communicating or setting the culture, why should anyone embody it.

Corey and Elliott write about ‘The high-engagement CEO’. The CEO’s job is ultimately to deliver business results, to accomplish the mission. The keyway they do that is to create an environment where employees are able to do their jobs well and a culture where they want to do their jobs well.

This has everything to do with engagement. And research has shown that highly engaged people have higher productivity and this leads to better business results. If you’d like to understand more about how you can lead your people towards a boost in their productivity then dive into thought-leader Daniel Pink. He tackled a trifecta of intrinsic motivators: 1. Autonomy; the desire to be self-directed 2. Mastery; the itch to get better skill 3. Purpose; The desire to do something that has meaning and is important

With this brief academic breakdown of some of the key ideas currently in the world of leadership we hope we’ve gone some way to inspiring the next time, you think about leadership.

Soundbite

Listen to Peter de Prins (Professor Vlerick Business School) talk about the history and evolution of leadership.

Interviews

Steven Schuurman

Founder and Chairman of Elastic NV.

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Marijn Pijnenborg

Founder of o.a. funda.nl and angel investor.

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Peter de Prins

Professor in management, leadership and coaching.

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Rob van den Heuvel

CEO and Founder of Sendcloud.

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Leadership Fundamentals

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