Business Leadership: 3 Questions You Should Ask Yourself to Become a Successful Leader

After a one-year journey, spent studying different leadership models, Roselinde Torres was able to identify the characteristics that make a successful leader. Here is his speech at the TED Talk in San Francisco

Business Leadership: 3 Questions You Should Ask Yourself to Become a Successful Leader

There are so many business leadership development programs nowadays, and the question “what it means to be a business leader ” in many raises the image of the omniscient superhero who commands and watches over his team of subordinates. Unfortunately, however, they are almost always obsolete, based on antiquated models of success that do not correspond to today's reality and even less to that of the near future.


This, at least, is the opinion of Roselinde Torres, senior partner and CEO of the BCG consulting firm and one of the most qualified and accredited women in the world in terms of leadership. During a TED Talk in San Francisco he explained why he disagrees with this concept and what are the secrets to becoming a true successful leader (at the bottom of the article you can find the video of the speech subtitled in Italian).


Over the course of a gap year, in which he traveled the world observing different leadership models, Torres conducted a study of 4,000 companies and nonprofits to evaluate the effectiveness of their leadership development programs. As many as 58% of the companies analyzed reported a notable lack of talent in essential leadership roles, demonstrating that they had failed to train and develop their key figures.



The lack of real leadership, therefore, is caused by the companies themselves, which are unable to adequately prepare their own management class.


In over 25 years of experience, Torres has noticed some recurring dynamics , similar stories that unite different individuals in different companies. For example, the case of Chris, an excellent and talented leader who, however, once transferred to a new department failed across the board, causing enormous damage to his company. Or the many cases of senior leaders of a rapidly developing company, who turned out to be totally unprepared and inadequate for change.


But why, asks Roselinde Torres, are these leadership shortcomings and gaps increasing despite companies' large investments in leadership development programs?


And what does the success of true leaders depend on? What do they do different from their colleagues who are unable to fulfill such a role?


In South Africa, Torres has the opportunity to observe how much Nelson Mandela was at the forefront in charting and following his own political, social and economic path. Mandela, in fact, did not place himself on a pedestal by centering everything on himself, as many other leaders have done, especially in similar socio-political contexts, or in situations of real revolution.


Nelson Mandela has chosen the path of distributive leadership , based on the concept of collaboration rather than the binomial command / obedience.


By studying and comparing the models and sources of inspiration of various leaders in the political, social and economic fields, Torres has extrapolated what he believes to be the characteristics that make a leader a successful leader , and the best practices that allow aspiring leaders to develop your potential to the fullest.


So what makes a leader great in the 21st century?


Torres explains this by answering the three fundamental questions that every leader or aspirant should ask himself.


Where should I look to anticipate the next change in my business model or in my life?

The answer to this question is in your calendar.


Who will you spend your time with? Doing what? Where will you travel? What will you read? How will this help you anticipate possible crisis situations and make the right decision at the right time?


Torres gives the example of a group of leaders who periodically meet, share individual experiences by identifying the situations and dynamics crucial for each of them, and finally make their own decisions to modify their strategies and to prepare to predict the next eventual crisis.


Strong leaders don't walk with their heads down. They peek around corners, shape their own future, don't suffer it by merely reacting to it.


How much variety is there in my network of personal and professional interests?

That is, to what extent do you consider yourself capable of developing new relationships by also relating to people who are radically different from you and your usual circle of contacts?


By diversity we mean gender, cultural, social, professional differences. Why should someone profoundly different from you trust them to the point of collaborating with you towards a common goal?


A true leader knows well how important it is to surround himself with different people, who think and reason differently but who precisely for this reason constitute a wide variety of experiences, resources and solutions.


Am I brave enough to give up a habit that has given me success in the past?

You must have the ability to get out of your comfort zone , and try roads that have never been beaten. You have to have the courage to take risks. If we abandon an idea just because someone told us it is wrong, there will be no chance for growth. And when you decide despite everything to continue on your way, be sure that those who follow you, those who believe in you, will be people who think differently like you, who are willing to follow you not in a simple step forward, in a real leap.


You cannot be a winning leader in this time and world simply by resting on the comfortable and reassuring predictability of the past, but you need to know how to prepare yourself for the reality of the present and for all the indefinite and unpredictable possibilities of the future.

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