Google ‘leadership’ and the results count will return thousands of hits – each with their own definition of leadership.

But what constitutes leadership? Is it the ability of an individual to influence peers, colleagues, shareholders and followers? Is it being able to guide people – each with their own subjective interests – towards a collective goal? Or the accomplishment of a result?

On June 6, The Leadership Masterclass will seek to answer these questions – and more, thanks also to the participation of world-class experts in the field. Here, international business growth guru Roger Harrop and culture change expert David Smith outline their views on leadership.

The eternal question about leadership is whether it is a matter of nature or nurture. What are your thoughts about this?

Roger Harrop: There are certainly natural leaders who are born with a lot of the skills – and who you would maybe follow to the ends of the earth. But for the rest of us we can learn the skills and discipline ourselves to use them – like being humble and letting your team take the wins, being perceptive of people and how each and every team member is feeling, developing the skill to know when you may need a collective view on the way forward or when you need to ‘dictate’. The best leaders have performing teams where each and every individual feels valued and knows exactly what skills – both soft and hard – they contribute.

David Smith: There is no doubt that some personalities naturally lend themselves to leadership by their very character, while others never want to lead and nor should they. For many who find themselves in leader roles, skills and tools provided by training can always enhance and refine the delivery by a leader.

Is a strong leader the most important element needed to transform a company into a market leader?

RH: Yes because often there is a need to fundamentally change direction and bring a laser beam focus on that objective – and, frankly, taking no prisoners in the journey to get there. It is the leader who must have the clear, simple vision of the objective and ensures that every strategic decision is a step on the route to getting there. Generally, I don’t believe in employee-owned or led organisations or cooperatives for this very reason – rarely do they find it easy to take big decisions quickly when that is what is needed.

You need to develop a culture that tolerates failure

DS: Leadership certainly matters. I’m going to be talking to conference delegates about a case study I personally lived through – and discussing seven principles of building a high-performance culture, from market disaster to huge market success. Leadership style is certainly one of those important principles.

How important is it for a leader to take time out and look at their organisation within a wider context, and outside the day-to-day happenings?

RH: It is vitally important that the leader takes time out to “get in the helicopter” and look at the big picture – not just where the business is now but also looking over the horizon at the potential threats and opportunities that may be coming down the line. If the leader does not do this, no-one else will. It’s your job. You need to develop techniques to do this that work for you – in my own case I know that physical distance helps me to look at the biggest of big pictures, for others it maybe when they work out in the gym or maybe a more structured approach like taking a day out of the office with no communication specifically for this purpose.

DS: This is the true mark of all great leaders. They are environment savvy – they network regularly, they read about business developments, they meet other leaders and are constantly refining their market ‘radar’ so that they are never caught unaware of trends and new ideas.

First COVID, then the invasion of Ukraine and now a Middle East crisis – do such crises create a ‘survival of the fittest’ scenario for businesses?

RH: I don’t see it as a survival of the fittest – but that the only constant is change. No organisation will survive if they have an if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it’ attitude, or try to maintain the status quo at all costs. Every ‘situation’ must be seen first as an opportunity rather than a threat. I know many businesses, for instance, who totally transformed themselves for the better as a result of COVID.

Technology is moving at eye- watering speed these days – and it’s not just for the techies like it once was. AI, 3D printing, augmented reality, drones and more are all things every business should be looking at and seeing just what they could adapt and adopt to the benefit of the business. And, by the way, they won’t all work out – so you need to develop a culture that tolerates failure.

DS: We live in a VUCA world (volatile/unpredictable/complex/ambiguous) and leaders have always been forced to cope with sometimes ‘gut-wrenching’ change. As a change management practitioner, that is something I expect of all great leaders: the ability to manage through continuous change.

And in the face of such crises – or market changes – should a business stick to its strategy doggedly, or be nimble to change and adapt?

RH: Strategy must be constantly reviewed in the light of what’s new and what’s coming over the horizon. The culture of the company has to be one that doesn’t just embrace change but looks forward to it with excitement and expectation. For me the key attributes of winning organisations today are: adaptive (helicopter) leadership, performing teams, super agility and what I call an enterprise culture where one and all are looking at the opportunities.

DS: The watchword for the world of today has become ‘agile leadership’. Leaders need to know when to adapt and to be adept at pursuing the necessary changes. I suspect leaders have always needed this ability, but change is moving ever faster in the age of robotics and artificial intelligence. Change will certainly not slow down  and leaders need to stay ahead.

You will shortly be in Malta for The Leadership Masterclass. What are your expectations?

RH: This will be the third occasion I will be running a masterclass in Malta and on both previous occasions I loved the fact that I had sparky, switched-on business leaders attending who were hungry to learn and share, and were, quite simply, a delight to work with. I’m hoping for more of the same this time and I will be giving them two promises at the start: firstly, a guarantee that by the end of my session, they will have additional tools to improve their sustained profitable growth; and secondly, that we will have some fun, which is a critical element for any leader.

DS: I expect to find an audience of those who are keen to learn from other perspectives – stay educated – and wanting simple tools to add to their ‘kit bag’ and to apply those in their own business contexts. I’m looking forward to the event.

The Leadership Masterclass is being held on June 6 at The Notch Conference Centre within the Urban Valley Resort and Spa, Kappara. For more information visit

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