Anne, who is the Founder&Author of The Global Leadership Post, answers GTF’s questionnaire about the virtues and faults of leaders.
What is your favorite virtue in a leader?
Humility. I think it isvery important that a leader always remembers that he only exists to serve the cause/organization’s goals and his followers/others. The humble leader is a life long learner, and knows/he can learn from any person or situation and is open to changing as often as necessary (without being fickle), to be the best person and leader s/he can be.
What do you appreciate most in a leader?
The ability to strategically (head) and emotionally (heart) connect their teams to rally around the cause/key organizational goal and get things done together, with such energy and enthusiasm that people go the extra mile to reach that coveted collective goal. Steve Jobs, Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela all come to mind. Even though they all had very different leadership styles, I believe they all portrayed this key ability.
What do you consider as a major fault in leadership?
When a leader’s ego gets in the way, he loses sight of the real objective/goal, and starts to focus inwardly on himself for his individual gain. When a leader is given too much power or takes it for himself, then he can lose perspective of why he is a leader in the first place. Being stuck in an ‘ivory tower’ and not connecting with your followers or reality is the other major fault I see in leadership. It is amazing how many CEO’s and board level executives I have worked with in the past that have lost all perspective of reality and of the (negative) impact their behaviors and words have on the rest of the organization. What is alarming, is that the organizations allow them to stay there! Making sure global leaders understand their true impact on others is totally key for future success for both their organizations and society as a whole.
What is your idea of happiness in a society?
Happiness for me, is where each member of society respects each other deeply, irrespective of cultural, racial, sexual orientation, gender, religious, philosophical or any other differences. Where people can contribute to both the higher good and better themselves and their communities along the way, and they know that they are making a positive difference in their society. Happiness is where we can all grow, contribute and collaborate together to make things better for ourselves, our families and Society as a whole.
What is your idea of misery in a society?
Misery in a society for me, is where there are no commonly agreed guidelines or rules to help members of that society live in harmony together and where mutual respect does not exist. Where certain people believe that they have power over the other members of society and force their ways on others. Where there is no hope for change or for people to learn new things and ways of being, to become better people, both for themselves and for society. Misery is where you do not exist as an individual or a have your own voice, or indeed believe that you don’t have either. Without dignity, humanity, and respect for each other there is no society for me.
What is your idea of inspiration for positive change?
Inspiration for positive change for me is«igniting the fire within people, to inspire them to actually change themselves and their circumstances for the better, and make better decisions that bring about a better impact on others or a situation». It means changing the status quo and actively recognizing when tools, processes, ways of being or making decisions are no longer adapted to the current context. It is when true power eminates from the very heart of that person and radiates so strongly, that the rest of us sit up, take notice and listen to what they have to say, because they touch us on a profound human level. Those who have done this in the past and present: Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, John Lennon, Aung San Suu Zyi, and for me personally, the chinese author Xinran.
Which country would you like to live in?
I am a citizen of the world ! I am half Irish-half Spanish, married to a Frenchman, speak 5 European languages and have been living in France for the past 19 years (so I must really like it here !). I love learning about other cultures and countries and have travelled to over 50 countries (and counting !) around the world for work and pleasure. I love London for its true multiculturalism, tolerance and British wit (but hate the rain!), love France, Italy, China, Japan and other parts of Asia for the culture and food, South Africa for their amazing positive energyand the U.S.A for their downright pragmatism and pioneering siprit, where you can truly reinvent yourself several times over and anything is possible. Ireland and Spain are forever in my heart – it’s impossible for me to choose !
Who is your favorite leader in fiction?
This is a difficult question for me as I tend to read mostly non-fiction ! If I had to choose, I would say the leader/hero who is revealed because they are thrown into a particular situation and need to rise to the occasion, but whom you would not normally identify as a leader under normal circumstances.
Who is your favorite leader in real life?
Actually I have 3 – all women leaders ! I am very inspired by Christine Lagarde. She has had an illustrious career in international Law, then became the first Woman Finance Minister in France (a first in Europe too), and now leads in the global sphere as the Managing Director of the IMF. She has grown and adapted with patience and calm in male-dominated spheres, while guarding her own femininity and strategic vision. I also admire the way she always supports other women leaders in different societies and cultures. The other leaders I really admire are Madeleine Albright, who was the first woman Secretary of State for the U.S. and who truly came into her own later in life, and Hilary Clinton, who is doing an admirable job as the current U.S. Secretary of State. Hilary particularly inspires me through her personal courage and hard work, breaking new ground for women in politics (as the first female candidate for the U.S. Presidential election as well as in her current global role), business, society and beyond and I very much admire her fantastic work helping other women through her Foundation.
What characters in history do you most admire?
The person I most admire in history is Joan of Arc. From the time I was an 8 year old girl, I have been fascinated at how a 17 year old peasant girl in medieval France, could convince a downtrodden and defeated Prince to give her an army, go on to lead hundreds of starving, desperate men to beat the English (particularly impressive to me at that time, being Irish !) and crown him the rightful King of France, uniting the country after 100 years of war. Her incredible honesty, perserverance, integrity to the very last breath and how she managed to inspire all of those men as such a young woman, are truly awe-inspiring to me. Nowadays we honor many women who have succeeded in male-dominated contexts and to me what Joan of Arc did, is truly heroic and unmatched ever since. The other amazing person from history I most admire is the ultimate Renaissance Man – Leonardo da Vinci. How one talented genius could be so revolutionary and ahead of his time in so many different fields of science, anatomy, painting, code, drawing, sculpture, engineering, architecture, botanics, combat machinery and poetry is truly exceptional. The legacy he has left the world and his outstanding modernity is truly the most remarkable of all mankind, in my opinion.
What characters in history do you most dislike and why?
The obvious one for me as for most of mankind is Adolf Hitler, for the inhuman attrocities he and his armies commited, the annihalation he caused to the world, his bloody thirst for power and world domination and complete lack of respect for human life. He was the epitomy of evil and represents the worst possible example of the human race and is a warning to us all. Never again.
What is the reform that you admire the most?
There are three, eventhough they all happened some time ago: the abolition of slavery, the abolition of apartheid and the vote for women. For me, all of these reforms have been key in giving back freedom to people who should always have had it in the first place and moving towards re-establishing a better, just world. Our world is in the mess it is today because people in the past took power over other people, making them believe they were inferior to their ‘masters’. I cannot abide any form of injustice such as these 3 and even though we still have a long way to go to put things right, history is cyclical and we are now thankfully coming to a time when both minorities and women (ironically the global majority !) are starting to have the voice and the power to change the world, that they deserve. When President Obama was elected, I celebrated by sipping champagne with my husband at 3am French time, we were so moved by this historic change !
What should be the two key behaviors of a leadership team?
1) Exemplarity – be real role models of the values and behaviors they promote within the company/organization, be actively seen and observed saying and doing whatt hey ask of the rest of the organization.
2) Transparency and clarity in their communication with each other and with the rest of the organization, no hidden agendas, so that we can trust what they say and do.
“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” — Bill Gates –Do you agree?
Yes, I totally agree with this statement. We have seen the legacy vertical leadership has left the world. The time has come where leaders will now have to be more horizontal and collaborative in their style, giving others more scope to make decisions and take action within clear mutually agreed boundaries and objectives. The era of command and control is coming to an end. Leaders today need to look beyond their inner circle and learn to collaborate and communicate effectively with key stakeholders within their organizations as well as in the public sector/ngo’s/ and other new stakeholders they didn’t need to deal with before. When leaders empower others, they give people the skills and the confidence, within clear guidelines, to move forward and not simply follow orders like sheep. Cultural differences of course come into play here and different national and corporate cultures will put different meanings behind the word ‘empower’. For me, it means passing on the ‘power’ ie ‘energy’ to another person, for them to carry the flame forward and do their part, while continuing to contribute to the whole. It is the way forward, as long as it’s done well and is not just used as a corporate ‘buzzword’.
What is your favourite motto?
« The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them ».
George Bernard Shaw
Anne Ravanona is Founder and Author of The Global Leadership Post and is a global leadership and management development Consultant, designing and delivering top notch leadership development programmes for global multinationals. She is also a CEO blogger for ReWiringBusiness.co.Uk and President & Founder of the Paul Nolan Miralles Association to help families of missing persons.
Website:www.globalleaderpost.com Twitter @anneravanona