Prof Klaus Schwab breaks down good traits of a leader #leadership

True leadership is one of those concepts that everyone knows about but has trouble either explaining or most certainly demonstrating. Professor Klaus Schawb is a German economist, perhaps best known for his role as founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, an independent, impartial, not-for-profit Foundation committed to improving the state of the world. The World Economic Forum’s blog cites Schawb “as establishing communities providing the best expertise and knowledge for problem-solving. Among those communities is the Network of Global Agenda Councils, comprising more than 1,500 of the most knowledgeable and relevant experts related to over 80 global, regional and industry challenges”.

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum

Professor Schawb at a recent San Francisco Forum event said that leadership comes down to four factors: brains, soul, heart and good nerves. “As a leader, you need to be professional and know what you are doing. That is brains. Your soul gives you a direction; it is a compass and a vision. Your heart brings passion and compassion”

I think of the recent passing of Nelson Mandela and his leadership style easily encompasses all of the above in addition to being our most current, most inspiring example of magnanimity, fortitude and dignity in the face of oppression that still lingers today. It is also interesting to note that  Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and De Klerk were invited to Geneva Professor Schawb when the icon was released from prison. The professor has gone on record remarking that no world leader has impressed him as much as Nelson Mandela.

Lets take a closer at the traits:

  • Brains: Subject matter experts and values knowledge, expertise and ideas.
  • Soul: Deeply embedded and unwavering values. Prof Klaus Schwab has said that leaders should lead “with a compass and not by radar.”
  • Heart: The ability to pursue goals and objectives with Compassion and empathy
  • Good Nerves: Unwavering will even in the face of critical crisis

In a recent blog post for Stanford’s Center for Social Innovation, Kriss Deiglmeier examines Schwab’s four excellent characteristics and highlights the “good nerves” trait as “his personal favorite,” summarizing Schwab’s description as follows: “Leaders must be bold and able to move toward their vision even with incomplete information or risky odds.” In an interesting twist he compares them with leadership necessary to drive social innovation. For example:

“Systems Thinkers (Brains): Social innovation is driven at a systems level, and requires that leaders consider the interplay of factors and forces within a complex and interdependent environment. Rather than respond to targeted problems, events, or needs, systems thinking calls us to approach problems by keeping a relationship to the overall system in mind. Thus, a social innovator’s knowledge must stretch beyond a specific domain to relate to a broad ecosystem and to make unprecedented connections in the quest for more effective solutions”.

A major key to developing integrity and character in new leaders is to study people of great character like Mandela/Mandiba. Critically study role models whose core values and business ethics have enabled them to change their world and yours.

Brian Tracy writing in his 3 Simple Ways To Become A Great Leader article suggests that you “Select someone that you admire for their leadership qualities of business ethics, tenacity, honesty, or wisdom.  Ask yourself, “What would Warren Buffett do in my situation?” or, “What would Abraham Lincoln do if he were here at this time?”  You will find yourself receiving guidance that enables you to be the very best person that you can possibly be. Great advice we can all start using today.

Image credit: World Economic Forum