This post is closely related with the last two, where I spoke of teamwork and Asabiyah. When navigating in turbulent waters, it is important to trust the person at the helm of the ship. The current crisis is largely due to a lack of effective leadership in the major economies; and we witness new examples every day.
Volumes have been written on the concept of leadership, but the most important role of a leader in any organization is to make good decisions that produce good results. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to think of a global crisis as a good result (even though a crisis conjures up both risk and opportunity).
A leader is also someone who displays consistency between what he thinks, says, and does. It is also important that a leader possess values.
It is a big step in life when we cease to be a lone contributor and begin to lead teams. Unfortunately, not everyone is made to lead, and it is difficult to teach leadership in a classroom. Nevertheless, at Grupo Salinas we have thousands of potential leaders; in fact, I like to think of the group as a factory for leaders.
There are three stages of leadership: preparation, decision-making, and adjustment.
In relation to preparation, you simply have to know what you are talking about to be able to lead. It is very difficult to be successful in any company when you do not know enough. A good leader is prepared, he knows his business, and he knows his environment. He also knows his organization’s capabilities, what team he can count on, how to align the people who report to him and above all, how to inspire them to give the best of themselves.
To man the helm, you needs charts and markers. By the same token, a leader should have a mission and a vision. A mission involves knowing what to do and how to do it, while a vision implies knowing where we are headed.
Then comes informed decision-making. The worst trait in a leader is indecision; a lack of determination is the kiss of death for a leader, because his people perceive it and the absence of leadership quickly becomes obvious. When the moment arrives to decide, a leader must show determination to say “we’re taking this path and everyone has to get on board.”
However, being decisive does not mean being inflexible. And this is precisely where the third stage of leadership, adjustment, comes in. Many times we have to make decisions with limited information and with great uncertainty. As new information or events come to light, decisions should be fine tuned accordingly.
Insecure people say, “I already made this decision and I wont change it” due to a fear of showing weakness. Nevertheless, if the environment changes, if the information is different, then we are also obliged to modify our actions. While we cannot change the wind, we can adjust the sails.
I mentioned that leadership is making good decisions that yield good results. If you make bad decisions, does that mean that you are a bad leader? Not exactly. As Francisco de Quevedo once said, “he who suspects he is always in error is on the right track.”
But Cicero also tells us, “to err is human, only lunatics persist in their error.” What is important is that if you make an error, take measures quickly to reverse the decision.
Everybody makes decisions everyday. Some are large and some are small. For leaders, the significance and consequences of their decisions exponentially increase, because they influence the lives of others. In the long term, it is a leader’s judgment that determines the success or failure of an organization or even a nation. In these difficult times, leadership is a crucial issue. Mexico requires complete, prepared leaders, with commitment, who are able to motivate and bring out the best in others. We should all strive to be the best leaders that we can be.