Ethics Lessons: How a Leader Should Lead

we need leaders at all levels to have ethics again

Antonio Núñez Martin, partner at Parangon Partners, talks about what he has learned from his extensive conversation with Spanish executives. Why business leaders do not occupy the role of social referent that corresponds to them? One of the most critical aspects that has been questioned after the serious crisis experienced by Western economies in the last decade has been the lack of integrity of some business leaders. That is why we must rescue that leader we need in any company and at every level.

Ethics, commitment or trust are values ​​that are generated in the day to day, in the ordinary, in the work. Exemplaryness is today more than ever a leadership imperative. The example makes the leader. As the president of a large pharmaceutical multinational told me when he asked me to find a senior manager: “Antonio, I need an excellent professional for me Steering Committee, but above all I need him to be good people”.

In recent months I have been able to interview more than 70 presidents and CEOs of large companies for my latest book “The leader before the mirror” and ask them about their main challenges. And one of the most frequent topics has been referred to values.

If a team needs to have a benchmark no one better than its own CEO to get the patterns repeated. This is what Antonio Urcelay, chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of ToysRUs Inc, thinks about when he refers to the need for a CEO to be “an enhancer of other talents and inspiration for others”. A good definition to explain why values ​​and exemplarity appear as the two fundamental characteristics of any executive.

For Alberto de Rosa, leadership consists of being an example of coherence between what is proposed and how to achieve it. “To be an example to be able to mark the way and motivate the team, but it is difficult to get the team to be motivated if the person in charge is not a reference for the others”. And as Luis Cortina, CEO of Siemens Healthineers, reminded me of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Albert Schweitzer “The example is not the main thing to influence others. It is the only thing “

A leader of having values

Tomás Pascual Gómez-Cuétara, President of Calidad Pascual, affirms that the leadership model that is based on the values ​​of his company and what he calls the pillars of the excellent leader is that of shared leadership, based on trust.

We are all wrong, there is no one infallible, but if a leader wants to grow he must accept that he makes mistakes. Constructive criticism always enriches and generates empathy. In short, it makes us human and brings us closer to others. The relationship between constructive criticism and humility is evident. Bill Derrenger, regional vice president of Spain, Italy and Turkey and CEO of Clear Channel Spain confesses: “For me, humility is the key. If we exercise humility we are more attentive. We hear. We make decisions with temperance. We take care of the words. We learn. We are better able to serve our organization and our shareholders and react less to our ego. “

Knowing how to convince others is one of the most desired skills in the professional and personal field. Already from ancient Greece, Aristotle was concerned to find an adequate definition of what we understood by rhetoric, defining it as ‘the art of discovering, in each particular case, the appropriate means for persuasion’. Leadership is influence, an influence that is exerted on people and that allows them to be encouraged to work enthusiastically for a common goal. The leader influences, convinces and governs.

In the same way that the leader commits, a spirit of service is desirable. That is, the leader is also a server. We could define it as his vocation of service towards the good of others, both for the global part of the company and for the individual part. Leadership implies, under this point, a strong willingness of the leader to serve the good of his employees, of his team, sometimes even ahead of his own.

This commitment is understood by Víctor Manuel Martín López, general director of Caja Rural Castilla-La Mancha, who shares the opinion that directing is to serve, and starting from that premise, understands his position as a “duty and a responsibility on which many depend families, among customers, employees and partners. In a way, we could say that although a good CEO must know how to delegate tasks, the responsibility for success or failure can never be delegated. “

Again we find that all this implies humility. For the general director of Aviva Vida y Pensiones, Amador Moreno, “to be a leader you have to be humble. Humility goes through listening and learning from others. It must be a fundamental feature to create and be able to lead a team. “

The knowledge of one’s own limitations and weaknesses opens the door to sincere humility. “In my opinion, humility, understood as the knowledge of one’s own limitations and weaknesses, being aware of it and acting accordingly, is an indispensable and essential condition in modern leadership”, explains Andrés Romero, Director General of SANTALUCÍA.

To illustrate, Romero tells how important this trait is from our Western culture, heir to Classical Rome. “A peculiar Roman tradition was that which occurred when a victorious general in a military campaign marched triumphantly through the streets of Rome. Mounted on a chariot, he was accompanied by a slave who held a laurel wreath on his head and was reminded of the limitations of his human condition: “Respice post te! Hominem you that memento! “(Look back and remember that you are only a man).

The level of transparency of some entities in recent years has been clearly improved, and for this reason, the first ones that have to show the level of integrity that exists in companies are their leaders. Warren Buffet, one of the largest investors in the world and executive director of Berkshire Hathaway, once said: “In the search for people to hire, look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. If the candidates do not have the first, the other two will kill you. ” Honesty must be the fundamental basis of any management, in which it also supposes the coherence between what we are before our bosses and before our clients. “After the crisis we need references that back our action and one of the most important, is integrity as an insurmountable red line,” says Daniel Carreño, president of General Electric for Spain and Portugal.

A leader must be prepared

In addition to honesty and integrity, sacrifice has also been a virtue that has been fading in recent years. The spirit of sacrifice and the ability to excel represent an important asset to face future challenges with the greatest guarantees.

When someone on the team has done a good job we must make sure they know it. Maybe some want an email, a pat on the back or just a gesture of recognition. Whatever the case, it is the duty of the leader to grant it. There is nothing more stimulating than a sincere recognition for a job well done. Elvira Sanz Urgoiti, president of Pfizer Spain, defines a good leader as one who does not despise or belittle a collaborator by asking him only what he feels comfortable with, but the one who is capable of making him grow, of challenging him, of thrilling him. And this does not consist exclusively in giving congratulations when it is deserved, but also in developing a team, a team that is treated with respect, and that not only share work, but also certain personal issues, so that the working environment is a ‘second family’, in which you can say good and bad things. “The plus that supposes the ’emotional salary’ that can receive a worker, is not comparable to any other stimulus”, Victor Víctor Martín Martín López.

And as for the personal field, the reflection of Bill Derrenger, of Clear Channel, which recognizes that the leader must prioritize three values: integrity, reciprocity and love. The latter is what usually attracts attention, but according to him, it is very simple. “Love is acting so that others are happy. I work so that my shareholders, my boss, and my collaborators are happy. It is not a soft leadership style. You have to make difficult decisions, but I do it for the good of my shareholders and those who depend on me, “says Derrenguer.

Rogelio Ambrosi, Managing Director of Merck, tells how his father taught him “to treat all people equally, whether they were the president of the Republic or a gardener.”

The crisis is waning little by little. If we survive, and things go back more or less as they used to, there is something we can not recover. If we have lost the trust and respect of the people who work for us, no matter how well things go back, we will no longer recover it. This, in the medium term, will weaken the working environment and will probably have a high cost for the company.

The President of Pascual says that although it sounds like a cliché, “the greatest asset that any brand has is its reputation and we think that it is built on facts and realities, not maneuvers and tactics to make an artificial one”.

A recent survey on leadership by Weber Shandwick, recognizes that 81% -of the almost 2,000 executives interviewed worldwide- admit that the commitment and external visibility of CEOs is a critical point for the reputation of companies. On average, 45% of a company’s reputation is attributed to its chief executive.

A leader always thinks of his team

Alberto de Rosa highlights the importance of horizontal leadership with a lot of communication with the team, based on values such as ethics, transparency and closeness, austerity and always prioritizing the common good.

Because “more than a model, I believe in the values ​​of leadership”. The distinction is pointed out by Oscar Martín CEO of Ecoembes: “this is something I learned when I started to practice rugby, a sport based on teamwork, effort and motivation; and where commitment, passion and talent are necessary. Another key is sacrifice. As a leader, you have to learn to fall and get up again. If a leader throws in the towel, so will his team. “

It is, therefore, to promote these values. In my experience as a head hunter, I believe that it is so important, when looking for the best managers, not only to take into account their experience and technical knowledge, but to go beyond personal qualities: responsibility, transparency in management, respect and ultimately, values. The reputation of a personal brand today can even be observed even in social networks, because having a digital presence according to correct moral parameters is not something less in our days. In this line, Marta Martínez, president of IBM, concludes: “Managers should be models and behavior drivers that promote a good work environment where teams are motivated and open to constantly reinvent themselves to create the impact we look for in our clients. daily”.

In any case, even in the case of a perfect balance between the professional and personal profile of a manager, there is a real threat in the management of the described values: imposture. The temptation to act according to what the canons of ethics and transparency dictate without incorporating them in a real way to the internal forum. This shortcut in the field of values ​​represents a constant danger in the binomial of what we are and what we appear to be. I am more in favor of a true education in values ​​than of a neat regulation by the State. And the only way to overcome this gap is with the commitment for an integrating excellence. I believe that an organization is as excellent as the commitment that makes its entire value chain aspire to the same excellence, starting with its first executive. For more information you can visit our website http://educacionytecnologia.tk

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