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Real leaders have a sixth sense

‘Live today with regard for the future’

Last year, I had the chance to meet lots of captains of industry in Belgium and abroad. Of course, the essence of our conversations was the economic crisis. Although strong leaders don’t easily start to panic, I have often noticed a feeling of impotence with regard to the political crisis.

The current generation of political decision-makers and – unfortunately – also many managers focusing on shareholder values in a too unilaterally way, have the same problem. They think on the short term, love to use one-liners and enjoy participating in the media circus. Nowadays, the popularity of these average politicians or CEO’s doesn’t last for a long time. Their popularity depends on the next poll or on the curve following their share prices. This superficial show is only temporary. Consequently, it is no wonder that we have a lack of strong leaders in such an economic and political climate!

Litmus test
This is why I have the pleasure to summarize what the most successful entrepreneurs I met in the past few years, consider as essential in order to grow year after year. Just consider it as a kind of litmus test for decent leadership:
  1. ’Looking forward’ is their first key to success. Leaders are prophets who can and want to look forward: ‘foresighting’ instead of ‘forecasting’. Their vision is well-founded and they manage to get it across to their people, customers and entourage in a charismatic way. They fill them with enthusiasm and create a general dynamism, allowing them to get the best out of their people.
  2. ‘Cooperation’ is their second key. They are working side by side with their teams and make sure to be surrounded by the best experts, so that they can delegate where necessary. They are running their business, without having to threaten anyone. They are the boss without playing the boss!
  3. ‘Trust’ is their third key. Trusting and being trusted go hand in hand. Daily, they support their employees where necessary and they congratulate them when the latter have performed well. They consider mistakes as part of the learning process and take the full responsibility when things go wrong.
  4. ‘Long term’ is their fourth key. They dare to break through the vicious circle of short-term thinking. They are not afraid of high-pressure situations and problems. On the contrary, they tackle them full of confidence, because they are well-prepared and can perfectly estimate their team’s capacity. They are not afraid of criticism and don’t really care about the next ‘poll’.
Undoubtedly, short-term thinking and acting can give you momentary ‘satisfaction’, but if you are afraid of doing what’s good and necessary on the long term, the ‘meaning’ of what you are doing, might fade away. And exactly this deeper meaning is essential for a sound policy, in politics as well as in corporate life.

Our good friend and renown coach Marshall Goldsmith perfectly describes this in his latest book ‘Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back if You Lose It!’: ‘All of us, consciously or not, run everything through two filters; short-term satisfaction (or happiness) and long-term profit (or meaning). Both have value... but it can be quite unfulfilling to live only today with no regard for the future!’ With these thoughtful words, I wish you all a nice weekend.


By Herman van Herterijck

"my ambition is to put the importance of pragmatic and continuous self-coaching on the agenda of current business leaders"

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