Leaders and Challenges in a Context of Stagflation and Uncertainty

Singularity University and Stanford University with their open lectures have redesigned and are still adjusting the profile and skills of the leader of the future, who is precisely the leader that any private, partially government-owned, social and public entities and organizations need right now.

Published in El Cronista on April 16, 2019
Transparency, integrity, suitability, aptitude, attitude, proactivity, productivity, empathy, openness, persistence, resilience, autonomy, interdependence, interaction, communication, responsiveness, diversity, inclusion, equality, charisma, generosity, assertiveness, humbleness, advice, and exemplariness are some of the skills of a design, creative and innovative leader.

We should inevitable face the impact of new technologies on everyday life with an exponential evolution, democratization and generalization, transforming human labor vis-à-vis machine learning and AI, blockchain and cryptocurrency, paperlessness and de-bureaucratization, the unavoidable advance of robotics, automation, cybernetics and computers.

Peter Drucker says that if the CEO of a company takes a pencil, then the janitor would take the floorcloth, meaning that setting an example is like being a role model, and so for observers to see what their leaders do is like watching a movie to find an idol and follow in their footsteps.

His vision of the future was legendary. He used to say long-range planning does not deal with future decisions, but with the future of present decisions. For Drucker, management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things. Capacity is measured in terms of whether a problem or crisis can be transformed into an opportunity; if you want something new you have to stop doing something old; what’s measured improves, and the future is shaped with courage and by seizing opportunities, and not by solving problems only.

Juan Carlos de Pablo usually says that he is lucky because he works so much, which proves that effort, dedication and the culture of work is the essence of those who take decisions. Pablo Picasso contributes to the idea by saying that inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.

Leaders may be tempted to lie, making an affirmation that they know is false in the hope that those who listen to them would believe that it is true. According to Aristotle a fallacy is a kind of lie, an affirmation or argument that is put forward as true when in fact it is false or fraudulent. Fallacies are actually intentional lies to attain results or pursue one’s own interests. For instance, a fallacy may be a truth attributed to someone who is well-versed in a given subject that when checked it turns out to be completely false.

Once I’ve travelled to Greece to visit the ruins, and my questions about historical events and Hellenist culture got mixed up with the tourist guide’s comments. At some point the guide, who was an archeologist as well, told me that I was very much confused: I did not distinguish between history, i.e. facts and events, and legends, i.e. stories. History has written evidence that proves it through objects, events and big heroes whereas legends are stories that are handed down orally as part of the culture and idiosyncrasy of any civilization, in general with elements of fantasy, magic and significant literary and cultural creativity. Today this differentiation has to do with the surge of communications that quite often are not true but by and large are the interpretation of what is desired, and not what can be seen and checked.

Many qualified analysts and communicators are trapped in their speeches and stories, evading or ignoring facts and replacing them with subliminal messages or facts that are impossible to check but by dint of repetition shape public opinion through the press, radio and TV, in an attempt to exert considerable influence over the citizens of the republic.

Our leaders are well aware of the uncontestable reality where volatility prevails in a context of uncertainty and unpredictable future. This is where to find those who really lead and are not easily influenced by stories. This is where to find those who will survive any threats that may be posed today and in the future.

By Julian A. de Diego
Director of the postgraduate course on Human Resources at the School of Business at UCA.