Learning how to foster leadership

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Learning about leadership is really a tough job. I had the chance to undertake a couple of creative problem solving workshops for my past employer. Creative problem solving can be an indispensible component about leadership. Being a leader implies being able to look at the problem and try to figure out a way out no matter what.

The workshops I attended were about strategic planning. People used to work in international development are normally used to work with log frame and its foundation, the problem tree analysis. I do admit that after attending those workshop, I feel quite uneasy about the “mechanized’ cause-effect method of a problem tree analysis.

Though super intensive and energy consumer no matter how many red bulls a participant might have taken (disclosure: I never had a red bull in my life, I think it is not good), at the end of the workshop, we had, as final outcome, the strategic planning done and, revising it, it felt like we had a strategic log frame done without even thinking about the problem tree.

I must say that the facilitator or better the coach was an extremely experienced professional with decades of work at global level and a master in creativity problem solving from Buffalo State University. He was a real pro.

Going back to leadership: it is a huge sector, you just google “leadership development” and you end up with millions of documents.

As always there are few good things among a sea of redundant, not so useful stuff.

The matter is very technical, I would say extremely technical and complicated. I realized how it easy to organize a leadership workshop without even knowing or imagining how to measure the outcomes. How could we be able to assess if there are any improvements in the participants’ behaviors?

In short we cannot improvise on having leadership trainings. I am not surprised to know that the best and most recognized leadership gurus are psychologists with PHDs in organizational behavior.

What is organizational behavior science? Have you ever heard of it? it sounds pretty complex stuff to me. Also because think, leading is about behaviors’ patterns, it is about ways we think and communicate and about way we build and maintain relationships.

An emphatic leader can show understanding towards her/his colleagues but at the same time s/he must ensure that everybody follow her/his vision. It is not surprising that checking the Harvard Business Review, you find tons of articles about leading without being “bossy”.

Delivering leadership trainings or one of the many methodologies that help you assess the effectiveness of your leadership’s skills is not a joke. Those self proclaimed leadership trainers should be honest with themselves first and then with their clients.

Moreover what’s the link between leadership growth and work performance and life satisfaction? What is the real meaning of leadership development? How to make this buzzword really meaningful and impactful?

What’s about the role of emotional intelligence, a concept developed by Dr Daniel Goleman and Dr. Boyatzis and subject of many international leadership bestsellers?

With this concept, intelligence is measured taking into consideration a much larger set of skills and qualities, the so called non cognitive factors and elements. There is more and more evidence that an impactful or better leader is someone able to master high doses of emotional intelligences including social and relation skills. Interesting to know that empathy plays a very important role on all this.

To wrap up this short reflection, the complexities of determining who is a leader and what are the characteristics tied to it are really fascinating and overwhelming. We always think of a leader as someone being successful at work, someone powerful. If you are a CEO of a bank, automatically you are a leader.

The true is that a leader can be anyone, even the person with the most humble occupation on earth. At home, if your father is a “houseman”, he can be a leader by getting everything organized and ready. No surprising to know that women, that unfortunately are still making the largest portion of population taking care of our houses, are on average much more organized than man.

Leadership is something you can learn about, read on internet but mostly important is something we need to practice. It is a kind of virtue you can nourish. It is a work on yourself. It is about being a fair and compassionate person while being resolute, determined and focused.

It should not be anything that abstract and complicated. It is about managing our lives successfully in small little things that mostly are not visible outside.

To be a good leader, I guess, you need to be a very good HR manager and have a bit of creativity and you need to start with yourself.

Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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