Imagine the scene: a trendy-yet-affordable restaurant in Kings Cross, a selection of delicious tapas to share, bottles of wine, and 10 well-known leaders discussing challenges they face and sharing solutions in how they overcome them. Who wouldn’t want to be a fly at that table? What could we learn? What might inspire us?
At a recent event, we brought together 25 exceptional leaders from across the charity sector – not-for-profit housing, international and humanitarian development, arts, local authorities, health and social enterprise. We asked them to imagine such a dinner, and to decide who should be invited. A roaring debate ensued, but eventually 4 candidates were identified. This is what they told us:
In July 2018 Narongsak Osatanakorn became the head of the joint command centre coordinating the operation to rescue of a young football team and their coach trapped in a Thai cave system. Under intense media coverage, with complicated barriers to overcome, and the death of a team member, he kept a cool head and ultimately delivered a successful mission. What can we learn from him about managing fear as a leader? Don’t ignore the fear, but also don’t let it take over. Instead, keep your focus on outcomes and getting to the next stage, whilst calmly acknowledging the risks involved.
Theresa May has undoubtedly got a tough job as Prime Minister in 2018. She is committing to leading a change process that she did not want, did not vote for and does not agree with. Only time will tell how well she does this. Therefore, it would be very interesting to meet her in 2023 to ask about staying resilient when all around you are being unhelpful at best, or undermining you at worst. What can we learn about motivation? Keep the end goal in mind, and acknowledge that leading is often about aligning very different perspectives and opinions. Challenges and upset are all part of reaching ambitious goals.
Michelle Obama is known for her advocacy and is a role model for women in leadership. She has successfully shaped change in how people think and behave. Whether its through Lets Move or LGBT rights, she has not shied away from challenging conversations. Not everyone agrees with her, but seemingly many people respect her. What can we learn about garnering respect? Leaders need to be authentic and passionate – focus on what you believe in.
Known as the person that leads the EU, Angela Merkal is widely acknowledged as a strong leader who builds allegiances and relationships. Her Wikipedia page describes her as powerful, influential and the most important leader in the world. High praise indeed. She has not done this as a dictator, but by building and maintaining relationships, balancing a need to be tough and a need to work with others. What can we learn about influence as a leader? You can’t do it alone, you need to bring other people with you. Find out what matters to them, be clear on what matters to you.
And of course, we couldn’t resist suggestion of our own. So at =mc HQ we nominate…
Not only has Gareth Southgate brought back the waistcoat, he also brought back Eng-er-land. In a time when the nation was at odds, falling out and falling apart, Southgate managed to unite a population and bring disparate people together to celebrate (near)success. I don’t even like football and I was quietly supportive. What can we learn about bringing people together and rebuilding a team? Leaders need to find a common goal or purpose that everyone can get behind, helping people to find their shared visions, not focussing on their disagreements.
What this leadership conversation shows is that there is no one right way to “do leadership”. Leadership involves different skills, at different times, for different reasons. Identifying what is needed in your organisation is an important first step. And then embracing diversity and flexibility to navigate challenges as they develop is vital.
If you would like to discuss your leadership needs, contact us online or call 020 7978 1516 to speak to one of our Learning & Development consultants. Or if you have a dinner date suggestion tweet it to @mgmtcentre
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Clare Segal, Director