For the past week, it has been Climate Week in my home country of Britain. Thousands are taking up the challenge to combat climate change. To say that it has been inspirational to be in Antarctica on a journey for sustainability during this time would be an understatement. We are honored to be part of such an important mission and to know that many others join us in the quest.
Part of our mission is to help advance sustainable leadership – and that starts with identifying the qualities that a great leader possesses. Before leaving on this expedition, we developed a list of questions to ask participants about their perspectives on leadership – their experiences within their companies or professional lives, the types of training they have been exposed to, and the qualities of leadership that they have found particularly inspiring in others. I have been interviewing people for the past few days and their responses have been varied and interesting. There are a few trends emerging, however.
I spoke today with the owner of a fourth generation family business, a small conglomerate of international businesses. He mentioned his father’s leadership qualities. How he set a vision, communicated it to the people around him and inspired them to work hard for him to achieve it. Likewise, a younger man who works in business consulting also cited a parent, in this case his mother. It was her qualities of empathy and support that he found particularly inspirational.
This evening we heard the second part of Robert Swan’s story. He pulled out some leadership themes as well. Being relevant was an important one. Thinking about the people you are trying to inspire and being relevant to them, their priorities and motivations. Inclusivity was another, being aware of creating diverse teams and then remembering to keep people feeling a part of that team, in a way that is a relevant and good for them. Promises, commitment and consistency were other themes. Doing what you said you would do, so long as it is still relevant of course – reliability and sticking to your word.
A final thought from someone I interviewed today. He said that leadership of different people was comparable to two snowflakes, no two are ever the same. How you lead someone needs to flex to suit their needs to get the very best out of them. If the varied answers to my questions on leadership are anything to go by, then this is certainly true!