Savvy investors don’t spend most of their time trading. They spend their time reading to stay informed about a fast-changing world.
If you don’t already do so, try doing the same this year.
A great place to start is the recently published The Leadership Lab: Understanding Leadership in the 21st Century, by Chris Lewis and Pippa Malmgren. Lewis (whom I’ve met) is a best-selling author and Malmgren (whom I also know) is a former economic advisor to President George W Bush.
As the book’s title suggests, its focused on leadership, which it tackles head-on. In short, the world has changed in many ways, and that means it needs new leaders and new types of behaviors from those leaders. The old ways will not do.
This book will help anyone who evaluates people in leadership positions as well as people aspiring to become leaders or who want to remain at the top of their game. Anyone investing in stocks will want to know if the CEO has the necessary skills the navigate a changing world.
Take, for instance, this passage from a chapter on the changing nature of the economy, an area close to my heart.
“The world economy is growing again. The world economy is picking up, at least so far. So what leaders need to do is help guide people into the future by envisioning it, explaining it and understanding how people feel,” the book states.
We basically know how people feel, as the book rightly points out, they feel scared. Yes, it’s a scary place.
The authors then continue by pointing out that the future may now be far more unstable than it was in the past, but that is where real leadership comes into play. Those will the skill can find opportunities. In turn, they then need to understand how frightened people are and work to alleviate that fear by providing a better way forward.
Those who can find those new businesses possibilities can help calm the scared and the tired.
How do budding leaders do that? One thing they need is empathy. “Leaders trade on experience. They should also deal in hope,” the book states.
Hope is important because to be a leader you must have followers. Those followers have to believe that by following you they will do better than either going it alone or following someone else. They don’t know for sure what the future will bring but they ‘hope’ it will be better. It’s up to the leader to give reasons for realistic hope.
If those people follow you, they’ll also want to know that you are watching what’s happening in the world and preparing for change. Sadly many managers don’t do that, as the book artfully points out:
The persistent feature of the economic landscape is that it keeps changing. It is the one thing leaders can count on, but some leaders don’t see change because they don’t look for it.
One way to start learning about that future is to read this book and then read many more. Anyone who does will be part way to understanding the future and that will give them a fighting chance of succeeding, whether it is as a leader or not.
By Simon Constable
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