Key Takeaways of “New Insights towards Great Leadership”

Key Takeaways of “New Insights towards Great Leadership”

Last week, we partnered up with 2Unchain to organize the conference “New Insights towards Great Leadership”. Today we would like to share the key takeaways of the four key notes on the future of leadership.

First one in line was Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic

  • Actual leaders have been chosen based on their level of self-confidence which often does not match with the level of competence they have. “The better you think you are, the better you are in convincing others that you are the best.”
  • The three main areas that impact how others perceive someone as a leader are confidence, charisma and narcissism. These areas were very important in ancient times when leaders had to secure the survival of their group. When measuring these three elements, a big gender gap shows up in the data with men score higher on all three, leaving women appointed to leadership positions less often.
  • Our expectations of our actual leaders and of our potential future leaders differ. For actual leaders we have higher expectations: more people skills, empathy, coaching capabilities, open communication, support etc. Research shows that women present more of these skills.
  • How can we make sure more competent leaders get to the top? By redesigning the selection and promotion process based on the objective interpretation of data, by de-emphasizing the importance of selection interviews and past experience, by assessing the right leadership traits objectively, and most importantly by making people aware of the confidence-competence bias.

The second speaker was Niels Mertens

  • There are four categories of leadership roles: the task leader, the motivational leader, the social leader and the external leader. Every category focusses on a specific role.
  • Each leadership role can have an impact on the team’s believe in their own abilities as well as on their actual performance.
  • In our traditional leadership model, we appoint one leader and expect that leader to fill in every role. Research shows that this is not realistic, in practice there are different people within one team taking on different leadership roles. Appointing one leader therefore is not the best way to go.
  • Mertens proposes an idea of shared leadership amongst different people within a team. Teams who had this principle in place showed improved team effectiveness, improved satisfaction, stronger team identification and a better mental health. Important is that shared leadership does not distribute the leadership of one person amongst others, but that multiple leaders can bring their own leadership to the table.

The following speaker was our very own Danielle Moens

  • Feminine qualities are still undervalued in today’s society and organizations. We hold onto the masculine ideal of a leader, even though each and every one of us, regardless of gender, has both masculine and feminine qualities.
  • From our leaders, we generally expect qualities that are more in the masculine energy, and what we see is that both male and female leaders generally show more masculine behaviours. Examples of this are thinking short term, acting instead of reflecting, competing instead of collaborating.
  • The result is an organizational culture that overvalues people showing masculine qualities and excludes those with more feminine qualities.
  • In order to become inclusive as an organization, we need to have Balanced Leaders that can tap into their masculine and feminine qualities. If a leader cannot develop both sides of the continuum, he or she should make sure to have the diversity of masculine and feminine present within the team.

The last speaker to take the stage was Jos Rovers

  • 24% of employees are actively disengaged, resulting in counterproductive behaviour and the need for a manager to make a team with disengaged employees work.
  • There are three elements that motivate employees: mastery, purpose and autonomy. If employees can find all of these elements within themselves, they achieve a ‘wholeness’.
  • Rovers states that people who have this ‘wholeness’ do not need a superior to lead them. Why? Because having those three elements is the perfect base for skill development. “If you learn how to manage your ‘self’ first, not only by knowing yourself, but also the whole of you and accepting it, organizational change will become easier”.

Our conclusion after listening to those four inspiring speakers? We know where the problems with our classical notion of leadership lie, and theoretically we have found many possible solutions to ‘fix’ leadership. The next step is to put theory into practice and actually move to new ways of leadership: competent leadership, shared leadership, balanced leadership and all of this with wholeness. This way we can make sure that people who are selected for leadership positions know how to lead in an efficient, human-oriented, inclusive and balanced way. Working towards inclusive and balanced leadership takes time, effort and means on two different areas. First of all you need to create structural change to take away barriers for leaders who currently don’t get to the top. Secondly you need to work on the culture of your organization, making sure that leaders that invest in diversity and inclusion are valued as well as rewarded. Danielle Moens explains: “Inclusive leaders enhance the wellbeing of employees, bring connection to a team, stimulate performance as well as ongoing innovation and most importantly feed the talent pipeline of new capable leaders, ensuring great leadership in the future!”

Curious about how balanced you are as a leader? Take the Balanced Leader online Self-Assessment® and get to know your qualities, blind spots, strengths and challenges in balancing the masculine and feminine within yourself:

- Karen Vanherck -