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LinkedIn – William L. Mosseray

Start your leadership journey beyond conventional wisdom


4 key competences for success: why it goes far beyond vision, followership and results
Can you still trust conventional wisdom? If we stick to proven recipes, most successful business leaders thank their track record to three core competences: 1. A compelling long term vision that encapsulates their aspiration for the company, as well as the strategy of the organisation to get there. 2. The federation of key stakeholders behind this vision, not in the least employees, and ensure they make it their own. 3. Excellent execution and allocation of resources, and ensure that these resources deliver above expectations.

But is this enough? Business success today is more uncertain than ever, and requires a sharp “paradigm shift” mind set at the top. The number, speed and intensity of factors potentially impacting the value of what leaders do is growing exponentially. These factors typically impact their businesses from the outside-in. Just think about the digitization of the economy, for example, which will be deeply impacting all sectors of the economy, or the ageing population in Europe, which is creating a huge strain on the economy and on companies, because of pension and healthcare charges.

In addition there is a growing feeling that a number of important change factors are actually embedded into your organizations, and impact them from the inside-in. Take motivational maps of employees. A complex and subtle evolution over the last ten to fifteen years is having a considerable impact on the workplace, and you should pay attention. Younger generations are “digital natives”, as opposed to those of us, “digital immigrants”, who are not born with a smartphone in the hand. This is not only a question of technology mastery. The intensive use of multiple virtual windows on the world since young age has serious consequences about how the brain captures information, turns it into knowledge, and develops (professional) motivations. Attracting and developing the talents needed for tomorrow requires to deep dive in the brains of the younger generations and understand what drives them.

So what are qualities that can help today’s business leaders to deal successfully with the most rapid and complex changes our societies are going through since ages? Let me offer four of them.

Start with humility. A rather counter-intuitive topic when talking about leadership, isn’t it? Even the best educated brains can’t know it all any more. The ocean of knowledge is too vast. And the path to success is increasingly made of trials and errors. Humble leaders know their limitations and make no secrets of them. They tap into the knowledge of their teams, combine it with their own and make the team progress by cross-fertilization. And humble leaders have no fear or ego problem to recognize their mistakes quickly and to change course when they had it wrong. Humble charisma is the result.

Courage comes next. The latin etymology of the word refers to the heart. Courage is the virtue by which you can undertake difficult endeavours while leaving your fears and pains behind. Navigating today’s uncertain business waters, with the occasional storm and regular fog, requires courage, because you can’t base your decisions on complete information and therefore need to follow your intuition more often than not. It requires courage because you need to dare to try out new recipes against the scepticism of your stakeholders. It requires courage because you need to lead by example, from the heart and not only from the brains, in order to get the adhesion of most, in particular younger generations.

Consider also curiosity. We live in a world where learning opportunities are endless, and where there is an increasing premium to lateral thinking and to connecting dots in a non-conventional way. You don’t necessarily need to work harder to come up with new concepts, it is enough to absorb more information and let your brains do the job. Read one hour a day, on any topic of interest to you, and your creative output at work will dramatically increase. Be also curious of people. Effective leaders take a genuine interest in people they work with, and learn from their expertise and behaviours on a daily basis

Finally, think about agility. If your body is suddenly confronted with a dangerous predicament, its strength and speed of reaction can save your life. If you exercise on a regular basis, it can make all the difference. The same is true for the brains. Put yourself regularly into question, be open to external views, challenge the status quo, build scenarios, anticipate events. Make it a routine. Then if a dream opportunity presents itself or if hell breaks loose on your market, you’ll have a key advantage: adequacy and speed of reaction.
Humility, courage, curiosity, agility. Probably not a panacea. But a good way to start your leadership journey beyond conventional wisdom.


William L. Mosseray