Four Regional Leaders: Comparing Diverse Intelligences
Some leaders are born, some leaders are made. Some even force their way into the stature of being called a “true leader”. But, what really makes a leader?
Since time immemorial, concepts of leadership, ideas about leadership, and leadership practices are the subject of much debate, writing, teaching, and learning. Many scholars sought the formula that could mold true leaders.
According to James Kouzes (2003), leadership is not an easy subject to explain. The goal of thinking hard about leadership is not to produce great, or charismatic, or well-known leaders. The measure of leadership is not the quality of the head, but the tone of his or her voice. Outstanding leaders shine appear primarily because of their followers. Are the followers reaching their potential? Are they learning and serving? Do they achieve the required results? Do they change with grace? Do they know how to manage in times of conflict?
In this time and age, upcoming leaders face tougher challenges as the whole world braces from the rapid spread of information and technology. Apart from that, the expansion of the traditional businesses into venturing in e-commerce and globalization had kept leaders busy thinking of up-to-date business strategies, new competitors, new cultures, complex markets, political uncertainty, and huge logistical problems. Indeed, the ultimate impact of the practice of global leadership should somehow come at pace with the swiftly changing times.
Test of Leadership
Four regional leaders, Jim Goodnight (CEO of SAS Institute), Tex Gunning (Group Vice-President of Unilever Asia Pte Ltd.), Mauricio Botelho (President of the Brazil’s Embraer), and Marjorie Yang (Chairperson and CEO of Hong Kong’s Esquel Group) were interviewed about their existing views about leadership. The leadership theories they hold dear were scrutinized as they come into terms with the imminent opportunities and threats of our contemporary times.
In their interviews, the four leaders were scientifically-tested to Emotional Intelligence competencies. These are 1) Self Awareness, 2) Self-Regulation, 3) Motivation, 4) Empathy, 5) Social Skills, 6) Reflecting, 7) Leveraging, and 8) Framing. Doing the interviews need not to be actual, but some information about these leaders were obtained through questionnaires, prnted and electronic materials. The hypothesis that needs to be determined in this study is to test whether the emotional competencies of each individual has positive correlation with his or her success in the pursuit of management and business. The results were then summarized and tabulated.
Comparing Leadership Profiles
Observably, these four leaders came from four major types of culture: Mr. Goodnight is American, Mr. Gunning is European, Mr. Botelho is South American and Ms. Yang is Asian. The purpose of diversifying the heritage of our leaders is supported by a number of studies have shown that leadership models differ because of cultural differences on a range of variables including interpersonal relationships, profits, bureaucracy, ethics and risk taking. National leadership models generally work best when leaders deal with people from their same culture. However, the leadership models that were so effective at home begin to create real problems as companies globalize.
All of them have their distinguished achievements and their own beliefs of how a good leader should be. Except for Ms. Yang, the chosen leaders are male. This may also indicate that most global leaders are men. Yet, currently, more and more women have held top positions. Thus, it should safe to claim that the issue of gender is not as biased as in the past.
Dr. James Goodnight is the founder and CEO of North Carolina – based SAS Institute, which is currently one of the largest privately owned corporations in the world. Maintaining the Chief Executive position since the company’s establishment in 1976, Mr. Goodnight bolstered an unbroken chain of revenue growth, which is dubbed as an “exceedingly rare record in the boom-and-bust software industry”. With an incomparable corporate culture scenario inside the company, SAS attained an unrivaled 26 percent of the company’s $1 billion in revenues in its R&D each year. Most people account SAS’ success with its employee -friendly policies that contribute to an industry – low workforce turnover rate of less than 4 percent in a year.
Mr. Tex Gunning. Proud of his lineage coming from The Netherlands, Gunnings is a trained economist who worked as a Supply Chain Manager in the Netherlands, and finally landing as the Business Group as the group Vice President of South East Asia. Gunning’s case in the company is remarkable as he had a self-realization as to how a good leader should be. After he was fired after an altercation with the Management Team because he believed he was always right, he was re-hired but was assigned in a division “under great trouble”. Striving to prove himself, Gunning decided to learn how to make the business grow and then how to make the workplace a true human community. Through a series of demanding “breakouts” (offsite workshops) held over a period of years in unusual settings, from a Unilever warehouse in the Netherlands to the desert in Jordan, Mr. Tex Gunning created a unique culture where trust, honesty, and authenticity liberated a creativity that made their business soar.
Mauricio Novis Botelho. This 60 year old mechanical engineer from Rio de Janeiro Brazil has been lording over Brazil’s Embraer for the past ten years, essentially ever since the company was privatized in 1995. Facing gargantuan problems of a formerly state-owned company riddled with heavy debts, stagnated sales and unmotivated staff, he decided to act like an entrepreneur, not like an executive in order to achieve the corporate culture changes he saw that would be beneficial to make the company profitable. Botelho initiated the massive recovery process by focusing towards the customer. Botelho travels on business about 25 times a year, reinforcing his belief that the real business is with the customers, outside of the company. Botelho is also interested in attracting new talents and trusts very few people. His sublime control over Embraer is bolstered with the help of very few professionals. With his no-nonsense temperament, he is often criticized for being “inaccessible, especially to those who work below the board of directors”; and “he trusts few people and treasures long-term relationships”.
Ms. Marjorie Yang. Being a daughter of a prominent textile manufacturer in Hong Kong, Ms. Yang studied in the US and obtained a degree in mathematics from MIT, followed by an MBA from Harvard Business School. More than that, she is an extraordinary woman who rose as one of the world’s most successful businesswomen and was even named in the Fortune Magazine’s Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Business 2004. She is the Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of the esteemed Esquel Group in Hong Kong. At the helm of Esquel Group, Yang commandeered the rapid expansion of the company into one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high-quality men’s cotton shirt, supplying such household-name brands as Polo, Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, Nordstrom and Abercrombie & Fitch. Currently, Esquel produces over 60 million shirts a year – more than any other company in the world – with 47,000 employees in nine countries and annual revenue of $500 million.
Comparing Emotional Intelligences
The ability to understand the nature of personality and how it is determined by both nature and nurture among his peers, his subordinates and their customers is the basic Emotional Intelligence that a good leader should possess. In 1983, Howard Gardner formulated the theory of multiple intelligences. Gardner identifies the following eight intelligences: linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, musical, and environmental. Throughout our school years, most of us are just taught by teachers who use linguistic and logical-mathematical strategies. This simply means that like our culture, there are diverse types of intelligences or skills that need to be recognized.
With landmark, best-selling book, Working with Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman analyzed those skills that distinguish average performers from superstars. On the basis of data collected from more than 150 business firms, he concludes that emotional intelligence” skills are the key. Goleman defines Emotional Intelligence as the ability to acknowledge, value, and manage feelings so that they are expressed appropriately and effectively, laying the groundwork for meaningful relationships and true teamwork.
Self-Awareness. All the four leaders have self-awareness as they basically knew what their strengths and weaknesses are. When Gunning realized his mistake in thinking he was always right, he strived to change and went to greater heights as he tried to prove himself in his company. In the case of Dr. James Goodnight, he maintains a positive outlook especially when it comes to the way he handles his job as the CEO of SAS. He manages by delegation and leads through example rather than command and control. He is most comfortable with the technical aspects of SAS and spends a large part of his time and energy programming and leading technical teams.
Self Management / Regulation. A quality characterized by leaders who exhibit high levels of integrity and trustworthiness while maintaining an openness to change. Our four leaders are disciplined and maintains to be as professional to their subordinates. In the case of Botelho, who is very choosy with whom he works with, he doesn’t hide his feelings or emotions at all, especially with his people on a direct basis. He is overly reserved and rather inflexible, most common to the command and control stereotype defined beforehand. In Ms. Yang’s case, she averred that she thinks that she should maintain to be a good role model to her staff and encourage them work hard at doing their doing jobs well and to not feel shy about asking questions which they do not know.
Motivation. Leaders need to motivate workers in order for them to strive better at work and synergize their energies to grow to their full potentials with the company. In the interviews with SAS employees it became clear that Dr. Goodnight motivates with his words and perhaps more importantly, his actions. Employees are vocal about the good words when describing him: humble, honest, open, and value-oriented. Foremost, Goodnight is personally motivated for success – technological success though software development, steady revenue growth of his company, and personal intellectual growth. Observably rich with this competency, a team leader once mentioned that Mr. Tex Gunning stimulated something to his employees: “Things changed drastically when Tex said, ’We need growth, and we need everybody to grow the business.’ Growth was something he brought to us: a really different way of thinking.”
Empathy. When a leader could put themselves in their followers shoes and feel what they feel, that is empathy. It is not just by “feeling” the feelings of others, but also empathy is to be intuitive of what the possible reactions of people. Wanting just the best for his company, one of Mr. Botelho’s top virtue is attracting and retaining the best talents for Embraer. He is said to be obsessed with selecting the best and most diversified talents to work for him. He does show quite good cross-cultural rapport; the great majority of the company clients are outside Brazil. He nurtures solid relationships with clients and suppliers. However, by being selective, he might just failed to empathize with people he did not choose. In the case of Ms. Yang, she believes that “No one is perfect”, therefore, she encourages staff members to co-operate with others, to recover each other’s minor faults, and use the power of synergy in the organization.
Social Skills. Undoubtedly, a leader must attain social skills in order to market the company to other businessmen and have good relationships with their subordinates. Botelho’s social skill is showcased when he was able to change a traditional culture of a former state-owned company and translate that into an unprecedented success. The eagerness of the banks and shareholders to make profit come a long way and Botelho dealt with it accordingly.
Gardner’s Theory. A greater awareness of the variety of intelligences as well as learning styles can empower leaders and maximize their chances for success. Also, it can help them to acknowledge and value the large variety of individual capabilities of their people. All of the four leaders are trailblazers in their own right.
Diversity skills generate a variety of innovative responses to challenges. In dealing with technological advances, international developments, and other social and economic changes, there is less reliance on tradition and more of a focus on creative problem solving. In the business world, the result is typically better products and better services, new customer/client populations, and the expansion of existing markets. All the four leaders superseded all their challenges by believing in their abilities and their respect for their subordinates. Being a global leader is not just a pursuit for self-improvement, but harnessing the energy of other people.
In the end, it is the global leaders who determine the roadmap that will guide both themselves and their companies to new heights of international competitiveness.