Leadership has results and opinions. Many people see their views as indisputable facts, but in reality, they are an expression of their personal preferences, values, and beliefs.
This is a problem that is becoming particularly worrying in the field of leadership.
A good example of the fact that many leaders do not take into account other people’s opinions and rely only on their own can be found in the world of politics. Have you ever wondered why so many countries are ruled horribly and some are even considered failed states?
Things are not much different in business. The usual experience of people at work and the relationship they have with their bosses is far from positive. According to recent studies, 35% of Americans would be happy to part with their pay if they were allowed to get rid of their current boss in return.
The pandemic makes the situation even more difficult. The devastating virus, which has created both a health and economic crisis and a social crisis, has made the stakes high and the failures obvious and with serious consequences. Weaknesses in the work of a leader can hardly be covered up when all the leaders in the world are facing the same challenge. COVID-19 has provided us with a metaphorical standardized leadership test that helps us clearly distinguish the good from the bad bosses.
Accepting the fact that this year will not be much different from the previous one, we must hope that the leaders will show several qualities that can limit the negative consequences of the pandemic and give us a reason to be optimistic.
We have been talking for some time about the importance of humility, mostly because it is a quality that is relatively rare among leaders. After Jim Collins published his book “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t”, with convincing evidence that the most effective leaders are not only extremely persistent and hardworking but also humble, it is no longer necessary to look at humility as a quality that has not been proven useful.
However, the data also show that the less likely a person is to be appointed to a managerial position or to win a political race, the less humble he is. We choose our leaders mainly based on their confidence and determination, as well as on the basis that they do not realize exactly how far the limits of their abilities extend. This is one of the reasons why incompetent men play a large part in leadership roles, even in today’s conditions of encouraging women in leadership. Unfortunately, at the moment the recipe for success is in demonstrating confidence, even when one does not have the necessary skills. Let’s be a little more humble and less arrogant.
Even the smartest leaders cannot rely entirely on their intelligence, as most of the problems we face today are not clearly defined and require lengthy training before they can be solved. Moreover, many experienced leaders have spent years in management positions, relying on methods that worked in the past but not today.
The solution to this problem lies in curiosity. A strong desire to learn new things, ask questions instead of giving answers, and the ability to listen and identify shortcomings in one’s conclusions are the things leaders need in today’s world of work.
People, organizations, and societies are usually better off when their leaders are honest and ethical instead of corrupt and immoral. However, if you open a newspaper on any page, you will find many examples of leaders who put their interests ahead of those of their followers. Many leaders use their authority and power to take advantage of others. They cannot resist the temptation to lie and cheat until they have completely corrupted the organization or institution they represent. Unfortunately, immoral leadership is much more widespread than we would like to admit.
Bad leaders multiply like bacteria in a polluted environment. They are like parasites that get fat while depleting the system to which they cling. Their Machiavellian schemes proved to be more effective and adaptable tools for climbing the career ladder than talent and work.
Our only hope is that leaders can still master the art of self-control, find reasons to be empathetic, and understand that leadership is not a personal privilege but the ability to persuade a group of people to work together toward a common goal.
There has never been a greater need for humble, curious, and ethical leaders.