Listening to a panel on governance systems and personal power skills, Dr. Daniel Vasella, one of the participants shared an interesting definition of an effective leader.
One of the things I liked about it, was that it highlighted how some skills are on a continuum. It makes it clear that how they are used will not always be understood as it is meant. Using words like narcissism, paranoid, and aggression the definition invited me to reflect a bit more on the six skills Dr. Vasella named.
Intelligence and the ability to conceptualize are both useful but not the main factor. Actually, average intelligence will be sufficient. That’s because intelligence can easily be shared and accessed.
Personal integrity and remaining incorruptible are linked to the leader’s ethics and values. He is the only one who can live up to them, but he has to develop and be aware of them. It is something people are confronted with daily.
The skill to establish human relationships is necessary for several reasons. One of them being that it allows finding the people with whom to talk and to be able to discuss what can’t be figured out on one’s own. It includes the ability to be vulnerable about one’s perception of a situation, share it with others, and know with whom to share.
Narcissism is also necessary. It means to find a healthy position of narcissism instead of a grandiose one. Without narcissism it is not possible to take up a position and be clear about why it is the one, one can stick to. It is one of the ingredients allowing leaders to indicate a clear direction and invite everyone to follow it.
The ability to be paranoid is also helpful. Again, it is a question of finding the right spot on the range between a paranoia disabling any belief and naivety where everything is believed. There are many situations in which leaders are being given information, without the sense that it can be questioned and may have to be questioned it is not possible to deal with uncertainty nor certainty.
A healthy balance between empathy and aggression is essential in being an effective leader. The ability to use empathy and aggression in a healthy manner is what enables leaders to ask necessary questions and receive a truthful answers. It is a skill that plays into all of the previous skills.