Oleg addresses the missing link that’s lacking in so many of our transformations—true leadership. He talks to us about some of the topics in Leaderology, in which he describes the best leaders as those who are active, humble, and play a personal role in improving lives, and making that be a part of their legacy. In our conversation, Oleg also walks us through some of the core elements of the system of leadership that must exist in order to make the work stick.
Early in our conversation, Oleg shares insights from his fishing industry experience, and its impact on his views on leadership. He mentions that when you’re about to spend time at sea, it’s extremely important to have faith in your captain. As a seaman, Oleg wouldn’t go to sea with a captain he felt wouldn’t bring him back safe. According to Oleg, the best captains were those who could bring the crew back home safely and also come back with money. They face rough conditions and take full responsibility for their roles. He calls them, “human professionals.” In this profession of caring for others, one has to work hard, respect others, and really know oneself. Such a leader has to be able to understand people and what will work best for them.
Oleg and I chat about some qualities of successful leaders, and he mentions that good leaders have the ability to be vulnerable. They try things themselves and aren’t afraid to express when they need help with something. There’s simple courage in being open and being willing to listen to feedback. One of Oleg’s concerns is that not enough leaders listen to feedback with an open ear and desire to make a change about feedback that may be critical.
“We love talking about leadership as a function, but every business is its own ecosystem,” says Oleg. To this point, he stresses the fact that a successful leader should also know how to help other individuals grow, so they can have a greater impact on society. Oleg believes that too many people are calling themselves leaders when they’re actually more like managers who hardly understand the organization that they’re operating within. According to Oleg, you need to unite strong leadership with a strong organizational culture to start seeing some success.
Leaders Need to Step Out of Tunnel Vision
“We need to look at simplicity because today we are really good at making things complicated,” says Oleg in regards to leadership. Oleg wants leaders to make things simple and understandable for everyone involved. He expresses the need for scanning the environment to understand what’s going on, stating that today’s leaders tend to have tunnel vision and ignore what’s going on outside of that.
According to Oleg, leaders need the following in order to help them be successful: stimulus, skill, simplicity, scanning abilities, responsibility, and excitement. He believes that the passion that burns inside of us is what makes a difference in the work that we do because you’re more likely to believe in it; it’s what makes you more excited to do the work. This is why visionary leaders like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs have become so popular. They don’t just follow or support the vision, they become a valuable part of it.
“With vision comes responsibility,” says Oleg. He shares that leaders have a unique opportunity to really improve and impact lives. In combining responsibility with the ability to be vulnerable, listen to others, and look beyond the tunnel vision to incorporate feedback, Oleg believes that leaders will be able to take stronger steps to bridge the missing gap that inhibits some organizations from making the organizational transformations they’re really looking for.
What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?
Oleg says: “At 30 years old, I thought that I knew everything, right. And now I know that I need to learn every day. This game doesn’t have an end; I’m always a work in progress. It’s one thing so trying something new, learning something new, but not just for ourselves but for people. Because this is my job to make a difference for people. It’s not the people’s duty to do something for me.”
About Dr. Oleg KonovaloOleg is on the Thinkers50 Radar, has been recognized as #1 Global Thought Leader on Culture by Thinkers 360 and is #1 Global Leading Coach (Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50). He is the author of Corporate Superpower (2018), Organisational Anatomy (2016), Hidden Russia (2014), and Leaderology (2019).
Oleg’s research identifies entrepreneurs’ and managers’ strategic needs in the areas of corporate culture, leadership, and he uses corporate diagnostics, in order to enable them to drive their companies to success.
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