By Belinda Coniglio, current student of the University of Sydney Business School MBA program
What is the single most important quality for a leader to have? A question recently posted in a Harvard Business Review LinkedIn group and the core of the first Sydney MBA subject, Leadership Practice and Development.
Charm, intellect, integrity and accountability are conventional leadership qualities. Qualities and expectations that society places on political, community and business leaders to model behaviour that includes the appropriate use of power, adhering to social values and striving to advance their organisation.
In his recent opinion piece on Australian politics, Troy Bramston writes “Leadership, like beauty is often in the eye of the beholder. It can always be better.” Bramston is correct in suggesting that a leader’s impact really depends on one’s vantage point – social, political, cultural, economic or otherwise, particularly when in business, “better” is likely to be driven by the bottom ine and in civil society, we hope that “better” means the desire to progress and develop a society for the common or greater good. The power to make leadership better lies within us all: the consumer.
In my view, the single most important quality of a leader is ideas and the courage and conviction to realise them. Ideas are more than having a vision, setting a goal or end state – for they mean nothing without the dynamism and drive to persist in actualising them. Creativity, the ability to evolve, adapt to feedback, transcend change and to flourish in a constant state of flux are the real components that result in “better.” Ideas influence. And as Professor Mike Jenner would say, “to be influential, one must be influenceable.” To quote Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi in a recent interview – “in today’s world we living the age of the idea; it is ideas that change worlds, ideas that change systems; not scale, power or money anymore.”
Leadership, whether political, corporate or community is about continuous improvement and innovation. As a young entrepreneur recently described it to me, “leadership is reinventing yourself, over and over and over again.”