“I lead by instinct,” began Cameron. “The only leadership buzz words that truly resonate with me are ‘true, authentic self’. But frankly, I’ve worked with ‘leaders’ who were complete jerks, so the last thing I wanted them to be was their true authentic self!” she exclaimed. “So just be normal, look people in the eye and have the kind of open and honest conversation that you would like to have yourself.”
Kneip reinforced Cameron’s beliefs by citing Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken,” he laughed. “Be true to yourself as you want to be able to look people in the eye--especially the ugly person you see in the bathroom mirror each morning.”
Wagner believes micro-managers will never be leaders and reckoned that the rate of change in the last ten years has been more dramatic than during the 100 years prior. He emphasised the need to be agile, to try a variety of different methods of leadership and if they don’t work, to move on to the next.
Cameron agreed. “We’ve all added ‘change’ to the adage that you can only be certain of death and taxes. You have to eat the elephant and carve up change one bite at a time. The goal is progress and not perfection.”
Keeping your feet on the ground
Jonsson asked the panel what comes to mind when they think about courage within their CEO role. “People often tell you what they think you want to hear,” reflected Brusi. “It’s tempting to think you can walk on water. So to keep my feet on the ground, I ask for honest and very frank feedback from my leadership team.” A senior leaders programme within Citi enables the delivery and receipt of such feedback in an open and structured one day session. “Afterwards it’s strongly recommended that you go out together with your team--perhaps for a drink!”
Kneip revealed his shock at discovering the focus placed by Generation Y on what they can get out of a company, rather than on what they can contribute. “In trying to gain understanding I realised that all of our clients were moving to Generation Y and that perhaps I was the dinosaur in the room”.
And when it came to Brexit, an astute member of the audience piped up, “Brexit is a failure of leadership!” at which point the audience erupted into laughter.