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Embarking on the leadership adventure

Cegos Team

Are leaders born or made? When exactly do you start becoming a leader? What is the secret to great leadership?

These questions and more are answered in Cegos’ new podcast – “The Leadership Adventure” – a series of interviews with established leaders who offer inspiration and advice to aspiring and existing leaders.

In the first episode, Jonathan Mohadeb – Head of International Projects at Cegos Group – talks to the podcast host Olga Dudko about his personal journey towards becoming a leader. He even offers parallels between leadership and parenting!

“You become a leader before you are appointed a leader,” says Jonathan. “It takes pro-activity to become one, it’s not just a position. There’s an inner wisdom and inner force that goes all the way with you based on past experiences.”

He believes people take to leadership in the same way you might take to becoming a parent. You learn as you go, but there is something innate that somehow guides you.

Jonathan says his leadership journey began as a young man when he worked as a youth leader and non-formal educator, taking groups of teens on camping trips and leading them through leisure activities. He claims that once you have mastered managing teenagers, then leading adults is a much easier endeavour!

Leadership material

Modern leaders face significant challenges that previous leaders never encountered. Today’s world is more fractious and less stable than for recent generations, so leaders need a range of qualities to succeed.

For example, with so many teams being bombarded with external stimuli – think buzzing smartphones and the culture of 24/7 – engaging people has become one of the biggest tests of modern leadership.

“You have to have a vision,” says Jonathan. “I like the Eleanor Roosevelt quote: ‘The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.’

“Everything starts with a vision. You need to understand what your intentions are, what you want to achieve. Working on leadership is also about working on your relationships, which will influence the way you are followed.”

People management should be at the forefront of any leadership ambition. Jonathan likens leadership to growing a flower. A leader should not simply focus on watering the flower but also on nurturing the soil. This creates the right environment for the flower to grow but also prepares the ground for other flowers to bloom. That is the true nature of leadership.

“Remember you are here to give, not just take,” says Jonathan. “The more help and inspiration you give to your team, the more likely they are to be motivated and follow you.”

Leaders should have the humility to seek feedback and act on it, understanding that it is perfectly human to make mistakes. As notorious cartoon character Homer Simpson once said: “if you never do anything, you will never make any mistakes.” But pro-active leaders cannot simply do nothing. They must accept the prospect of failure and deal with it.

Skills for today and tomorrow

What skills does Jonathan think aspiring leaders need to develop? When asked to name just three, he reels off several more, demonstrating the complex psychological makeup a modern leader needs to adopt!

According to Jonathan, leadership skills apply both internally and externally, with integrity (walking your talk and talking your thought) and persistence being at the centre. Jonathan refers to the biblical story of Nahshon, who tried to follow Moses and part the waters to cross the Red Sea. He had to walk until the water reached his nose before the waters eventually parted, revealing the path for his followers to pass through. Of course, Nahshon’s followers had a different experience as they had an easy passage compared to their leader. It will always be ever thus.

When it comes to modern leadership, other crucial skills include communication – especially when explaining your vision – and the ability to inspire. Alongside these traits, being respectful and empathic, as well as balancing courage and consideration, makes for a very potent mix.

Finally, Jonathan is asked about the one thing that existing leaders can do now that will immediately improve their leadership capabilities. His answer? You’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out!

Episode 1 of The Leadership Adventure – Becoming a Leader – is available wherever you get your podcasts. Or click below to listen to it.

Discover or rediscover the other episodes of the Leadership Adventure podcasts

Written by

Cegos Team

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