May 19, 2020

Leadership Beyond Trends

Leadership
Karima Hana-Meksem
human development
Argan tree
Tomas H. Lucero
4 min
Leadership Beyond Trends

There are endless books and articles on the subject of leadership. There are endless more products being produced at this very moment—to reach you at bookstores, podcasts, web portals and so forth. Each moment, particularly if you are a manager at your workplace, you are being asked to check your leadership thermometer. Are you hot? The pressure is on. We pay a lot of attention to leadership because of our need for success. We must turn our business ventures into profit-making enterprises. This is how we make a living. However, can we focus on leadership so intensely that we might trip over ourselves? Is there another way to lead that does not entail a constant second-questioning of our selves?

Karima Hana-Meksem, PhD, a writer on human development and, yes, “leadership,” thinks so. In her article “The Most Successful Leaders Have No Leadership Lessons to Give,” Hana-Meksem challenges conventional and unquestioned styles of leadership. She starts out by saying that there’s nothing wrong when someone chooses not to change instead of constantly react to exhortations to change. “There is actually nothing bad with people not changing over time. There is nothing wrong with not following the trend of fakeness, the excessive narcissistic selfie trend and the political correctness of our chaotic world.”

While some of us manage to retain our original identity in the demanding workplace, it’s very easy to forget it also. We all come from somewhere specific—whether it’s a home where parents imbued specific values in us or a foreign country where life next to livestock was the norm. Our leadership styles and approaches could reflect our origins but instead they need to be curtailed in order to fit in. While we strive to blend in to benefit our corporate enterprise it is not necessarily wise business. “We all just want to please all around and at all costs and we simply forget to be ourselves at home, school and especially in the workplace,” writes Hana-Meksem.

At the present moment, the idea of leadership may be so diluted, so hackneyed, that it may be counterproductive and ineffective. Hana-Meksem compares current thinking on leadership to argan oil, an ancient Moroccan product that has suddenly become an international trend. “Leadership is comparable to argan oil. The argan tree, also known as the tree of life, because of its precious argan oil is the most expensive table oil on the planet. Leadership popularity, like the argan oil boom, unfortunately is a double-edged sword.”

Suggesting another leadership style, Hana-Meksem evokes the image of the nobody. Yes, the nobody. “These [leaders] are the unknown human beings of the Moroccan Atlas mountains, the Alaskan natives, or ignored office workers, boxed in at the bottom of these extravagant international organizations. These people represent an important hidden leadership capital. These people are rare and unfortunately, they are not among the majority of people we wrongly worship as ‘leaders’ today.” These individuals, Hana-Meksem suggests, are leadership capital precisely because they do not change. Their constancy is not stagnation, however. It’s a refusal to blindly follow trends. It’s also resilience expressed as a doggedness in remaining true to themselves: remembering who they are and acting accordingly. The workplaces we inhabit challenge us in stringent ways. It’s a condition to thrive in a global environment. We need effective solutions at an arm’s length away. Copying leadership styles, changing them each week according to trends may be suppressing each one’s leadership potential—not to mention that it’s also exhausting to keep up.

We also work in top-down structures. We love them for their effectiveness, for how easy instructions from above flow down, clearly, ready for enactment. The dominant leadership styles are based in the West and styles that are not are not given their proper weight. In a diverse, global world—increasingly growing more and more complex—is it time, for survival’s sake—to reconsider the effectiveness of hierarchy, the practicality of Western ways of doing things? Hana-Meksem’s vision of leadership reflects an approach that empowers those we work with, not us—the leader.

“Leadership is giving everyone a chance to become capable of leading. Leadership is about redistributing power to all. Leadership is comprehending that nobody is in charge; nobody has power. All human beings are intelligent and are able to have a vision about what leadership should be in their own environment. Leadership is about looking forward and distributing power. There is nothing self-centered about leadership, it is all about others. This is about thinking first before applying anything. Leadership is about learning to listen to people with or without titles, and to think wisely, not just to lead at all costs,” she writes.

It’s the middle of the day and the day’s second meeting is in five minutes. It’s evening, in a hotel room, and tomorrow you are due to give an important presentation. You have been promoted and now in charge of a team of fifty people. The pressure is on to lead. And we need to lead. However, by virtue of who you are, you may already have more tools, more valuable experience than you think in the practice of leadership. Maybe, right now, it’s more important for the benefit of your team, to relax instead of reaching for that bright book on leadership.

Related Story: Leadership lessons from King Arthur

Related Story: Three Leadership Styles You Need at the Top

Share article

Jun 10, 2021

G7 Summit guide: What it is and what leaders hope to achieve

G7
G7Summit
Sustainability
EU
3 min
Business Chief delves into what the G7 is and represents and what its 2021 summit hopes to achieve

Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand, you’ll have seen the term ‘G7’ plastered all over the Internet this week. We’re going to give you the skinny on exactly what the G7 is and what its purpose on this planet is ─ and whether it’s a good or a bad collaboration. 

 

Who are the G7?

The Group of Seven, or ‘G7’, may sound like a collective of pirate lords from a certain Disney smash-hit, but in reality, it’s a group of the world’s seven largest “advanced” economies ─ the powerhouses of the world, if you like. 

The merry band comprises:

  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • The United Kingdom
  • The United States

Historically, Russia was a member of the then-called ‘G8’ but found itself excluded after their ever-so-slightly illegal takeover of Crimea back in 2014.

 

Since 1977, the European Union has also been involved in some capacity with the G7 Summit. The Union is not recognised as an official member, but gradually, as with all Europe-linked affairs, the Union has integrated itself into the conversation and is now included in all political discussions on the annual summit agenda. 

 

When was the ‘G’ formed?

Back in 1975, when the world was reeling from its very first oil shock and the subsequent financial fallout that came with it, the heads of state and government from six of the leading industrial countries had a face-to-face meeting at the Chateau de Rambouillet to discuss the global economy, its trajectory, and what they could do to address the economic turmoil that reared its ugly head throughout the 70s. 

 

Why does the G7 exist?

At this very first summit ─ the ‘G6’ summit ─, the leaders adopted a 15-point communiqué, the Declaration of Rambouillet, and agreed to continuously meet once a year moving forward to address the problems of the day, with a rotating Presidency. One year later, Canada was welcomed into the fold, and the ‘G6’ became seven and has remained so ever since ─ Russia’s inclusion and exclusion not counted. 

 

The group, as previously mentioned, was born in the looming shadow of a financial crisis, but its purpose is more significant than just economics. When leaders from the group meet, they discuss and exchange ideas on a broad range of issues, including injustice around the world, geopolitical matters, security, and sustainability. 

 

It’s worth noting that, while the G7 may be made up of mighty nations, the bloc is an informal one. So, although it is considered an important annual event, declarations made during the summit are not legally binding. That said, they are still very influential and worth taking note of because it indicates the ambitions and outlines the initiatives of these particularly prominent leading nations. 

 

Where is the 2021 G7 summit?

This year, the summit will be held in the United Kingdom deep in the southwest of England, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosting his contemporaries in the quaint Cornish resort of Carbis Bay near St Ives in Cornwall. 
 

What will be discussed this year? 

After almost two years of remote communication, this will be the first in-person G7 summit since the novel Coronavirus first took hold of the globe, and Britain wants “leaders to seize the opportunity to build back better from coronavirus, uniting to make the future fairer, greener, and more prosperous.”

 

The three-day summit, running from Friday to Sunday, will see the seven leaders discussing a whole host of shared challenges, ranging from the pandemic and vaccine development and distribution to the ongoing global fight against climate change through the implementation of sustainable norms and values. 

 

According to the UK government, the attendees will also be taking a look at “ensuring that people everywhere can benefit from open trade, technological change, and scientific discovery.” 

 

Share article