The keys of a good leadership, also for entrepreneurs

In the school year of 1993-94, as soon as I finished the Pedagogy studies and I got a diploma in Education of Leisure, I applied for the Young Leaders Fellowship scholarship of the Ryoichi Sasakawa Foundation. The goal was to make a research project that allowed me to lay the foundation of what my future doctoral thesis would be while I started working at the Leisure Studies Institute of the University of Deusto, founded in 1988 in the heart of the then Faculty of Philosophy and Education Science. Then started a long journey that’s still going, which I’m very aware of, and that made me work today at the Faculty of Psychology and Education of the University of Deusto, developing at least two of my biggest passions: teaching, with everything that implies; and the promotion of entrepreneurship, the entrepreneurial person – especially the teacherpreneur – and their training.

Do not worried, today’s post is not about my story, it is about leadership. Do you want to keep reading? You don’t? Then you’ll miss something; you do? Keep reading.

The point is that on the 7th of November I attended a conference organized by the Deusto Alumni within the framework of the Encuentros NOW Bilbao. The conference was given by the international expert in talent, sport and leadership Álvaro Merino. Personally, I tell you straight away that it was a time very well spent, and keep in mind that it started at 19:00 after a long day of work. But, honestly, I really wanted to keep learning about leadership and to know the basic principles that, according to the speaker, allow us to “activate the talent to become the best version of ourselves, through an attractive and intriguing journey”.

The hour and a half that it lasted passed quite quickly: it was a different, attractive and stimulating way of telling what leadership means and, thereby, how to keep activating our talent.

When I listened to Álvaro, that first scholarship and one of the first meetings we had more than 25 years ago with those in charge of the Ryoichi Sasakawa Foundation came to mind. And it’s that the goal of those scholarships, which today is still the same, is:

To train graduate students in the University with a high qualification for future leadership in international topics that transcend geopolitical, religious, ethnic and cultural borders, both in the public and the private sector, and to take part actively in support of peace and the wellbeing of the human beings.

I remember that in that moment I felt flattered for the scholarship I was receiving, with a lot of responsibility and very well-known by the then Vice Chancellor of the International Relations of the University of Deusto Julia González.

It turns out that leadership is not just one of those 20 characteristics of the E.P. that I defend so much; it’s, as such, a very significative part of what being an E. P. means: 14. Leader of people, projects and experiences, with those who are involved.

Álvaro Merino used the All Blacks as an example of leadership. I share with you the main ideas that stuck to me, starting with “the attitude” of how to face each day and the challenges that are presented to us, and I do it through the current Haka:

By the way, the first time the Haka ka Mate was presented was on the year 1988/89, the moment when I started my Pedagogy studies (coincidence?).

Let’s go back to the basic ideas of leadership, which Álvaro Merino understands as:

The action of gifting contexts of stimulating and uncomfortable learning.

  • Leaders create leaders, they don’t have followers, being invisibility the highest level of a leader. Leaders are teachers.
  • Leadership has to do with:
    • Being generous, until it hurts.
    • Being aware of the importance of assertiveness and accepting the consequences.
    • Having discipline.
    • Being humble, “taking the broom and sweeping”.

Don’t ever be too big to stop doing the small things that need to be done.

  • To work on the critical thinking (and self-criticism).
  • To have a continuous productive attitude.

When necessary: Reduce to Create, Erase to Increase.

  • To give up my own I AM THE WINNER for EVERYONE WINS.
  • To achieve the collective talent, not individual, and empower.
  • To manage the team, which means managing the imperfect.
  • To have people in mind and to treat them well (being demanding at the same time).
  • To co-design with every member of the team so they feel protagonists.
  • To be aware that sometimes you should move aside so people can pass you from the right.
  • To change, to look for the “gap” and when you are on the top of “your game”, then to change it.

But also:

  • To start from a purpose, a motive, a bond, a “for what”.
  • To feel a part of something.
  • To train to win, but practicing under pressure, because we are what we train.

NEVER forget that:

  • The first key of leadership is self-care and generosity with yourself.
  • Success is the leverage of learning.
  • Erors are a great opportunity to learn, if that’s what you want.
  • Values are transmitted through observable behavior.

I hope these ideas help you understand leadership a little bit more.

I’ll see you in a few weeks.

Enjoy each day.

Translated by María Ubierna Quintanilla and supervised by Arantza Arruti.

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