Effective leaders share their knowledge and multiply intelligence rather than thrive on power, industrial and organisational psychologist Viviane Amar told a business breakfast last Friday.
“Not all people at the top of organisations are leaders,” Ms Amar stressed. “Trust-based organisations are more powerful than those driven by fear and conflict or led by people of power who fight for territory. Leaders who are imperfect manage by values.”
Ms Amar, the chief executive of Montreal-based Leading Leaders Intl Ltd, was invited to Malta by Leading Talks, the venture founded by Patrick Parnis to host experts to share their knowledge and vision with local professionals.
A worldwide consultant practicing cultural change through women, Ms Amar has coached in executive leadership for nearly 30 years in the US, Asia and Europe. She has clocked 20,000 hours of coaching chief executives and their teams around the world.
More recently, she developed a holistic and multi-disciplinary approach on women’s leadership which links evolutionary psychology, cultures, psycho-sociology and neurosciences.
Addressing a mostly female audience at the event themed Women At The Top: How To Achieve More Effective Leadership, at the Hotel Phoenicia, Ms Amar outlined the difference between what she dubbed ‘PoPs’ – People of Power – and effective leaders.
‘PoPs’, she explained, fought the fears of their silent inner child; effective leaders had self-confidence, not over-confidence.
“What does your team say about you? Would it walk through a fire for you?” she asked the audience of chief executives, managers, coaches, finance professionals, journalists, and NGO officials. US Ambassador Douglas Kmiec was among the few men present.
Organisations were increasingly embracing a paradigm shift away from pyramids to a network of teams.
Ms Amar explained how any member of a team could be a leader: leadership required courage, intuition, emotional decoding, empathy and self-knowledge.
Women, she pointed out, used both sides of their brain to convey facts and feelings because they were natural communicators. Since childhood, their brains developed faster than men’s, and had the capacity to manage complexity. Women were more intuitive, and had particular judgment skills, they were ‘designed’ to be socially sensitive, which was why they were more likely to manage by values and were often future-focused.
She encouraged her audience to think in terms of personal development and change as opposed to waiting for their organisations or the authorities to adapt. Women, she added, had a capacity for social intelligence and related and bonded with others to understand their emotions.
Ms Amar urged women to think globally and wisely: they were only fit for their futures if they faced up to challenges. Women needed recognition and positive feedback as cultures had not prepared them to feel good about themselves. They often developed an illusionary pattern of perfectionism.
She listed the seven traps women fell into which negatively impacted their self-confidence. The illusion of perfectionism of being good workers and mothers led to fears, inhibitions of their inner child, doubts, guilt and victimisation.
“Who will heal us if not us?” she asked. “Self-development starts within: we must heal ourselves to heal others. We must trade fear for desire. We must accept to be good enough mothers and workers. Excellence is a decision, it will not stem from unresolved conflicts.”
It was essential that effective leaders were contributive, generous mentors, and networkers.
Contributive leadership was about transmitting self-worth and knowledge, empowering people and bonding groups, and trading aggression for assertiveness.
Emotional maturity, she added, never stopped growing.
“What do you want to make of Malta?” she asked her audience. “Be generous with what you know. These are the days of androgynous leadership. Men have been told that women are dangerous but it is no longer a question of gender. It is a question of being able to empower others. You cannot make it as leaders if you impose on others. Women who thrive on power are weak and lack confidence. The ultimate objective of being a leader is to become a mentor.”
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