Some of the most difficult people to lead are leaders themselves. Leaders are strong-willed, passionate, and opinionated, and many do not take direction well. But the best businesses are filled with leaders at every level, nurturing an environment of ownership and success.
YPO member Tamer Nassar heads a business that has witnessed the heavy responsibilities of leadership. Nassar is the Managing Director and CEO of Setcore Petroleum Services, which can trace its roots back to a leather tannery in 19th century Egypt. That means the business has survived two World Wars, government nationalization of industry, and Egyptian political upheaval. Through all these difficult changes, Nassar's family shepherded and developed the business. Today, the company is involved in textiles and oilfield services, with offices throughout the Middle East.
Many business leaders have opportunities to lead leaders outside of their business, too. These may include boards, non-profit work, and learning organizations. Nassar, for example, has served on the Regional Chair's Council of YPO, where he had the opportunity to lead other YPO members. On an episode of my podcast YPO 10 Minute Tips from the Top, Nassar shared techniques for leading other leaders:
There are many skills involved in effective leadership of any type. "But most of all," Nassar says, "listening!" It sets the tone for everything else to follow. Nassar says, "To listen to others and understand a different point of view and take into account other perspectives is critical." It will make the individuals feel heard, and you may glean some valuable ideas.
2. Be Transparent
It's important to be candid when dealing with other leaders. Leaders demand information so they can make the best decision possible. Transparency was also important to Setcore in 2011, when there was a great deal of political, social, and economic upheaval along with the events in Tahrir Square. But Nassar had success with his employees because of his honesty. He explains, "We spent an awful lot of time talking to them and explaining to them what was going on." It's also important to set expectations, Nassar says, "explaining to them what we could do and what we couldn't do." This straightforward approach is key.
3. Lead With Persuasion, Not Orders
Because they're not naturally apt to follow, leaders require different handling. "If you don't have any capital structures to get what you want, you can't give orders." Leaders would bristle at this approach. Instead, Nassar says, "Everything has to be done by persuasion, by listening, by understanding the other point of view." And the utility of this skill is extensive. "You can apply this skill in your life, in your business, in your family life, everywhere," Nassar believes. After all, part of leadership is convincing people to do what you want them to do, but in a way that they're happy to do so.
4. Make It a Dialogue
Leaders will demand to be heard, and to play a meaningful role in the decision-making process. Dialogue was also critical to Setcore in 2011, when other workers all over Egypt were staging strikes. "We had a lot of long-term relationships with our employees, and we were able to leverage those relationships to calm things down and keep things moving forward." And neglecting dialogue is a damaging mistake. Nassar explains, "We've seen other situations where there was an absence of dialogue, and things broke down very, very quickly." Engaging in dialogue will help future leaders grow and improve your own leadership at the same time.
5. Walk the Talk
Good leaders exhibit the qualities they want their employees to have. And this is even more important when leading leaders. "Leading by example - by doing and not just talking - is huge," asserts Nassar. It also makes you more a part of the team, sharing in their successes and struggles.
Each week Kevin explores exclusive stories inside YPO, the world's premiere peer-to-peer organization for chief executives, eligible at age 45 or younger.