Recently in Paris, I had the chance to listen to two psychologists, one French, one Norwegian, who work as consultants for business and specialize in leadership issues. We had a fascinating conversation about « human capital » and leadership. The wonderfully surprising result of these hours together was that they both agreed that what was often overlooked, but vitally important in true leaders is valuing Human Capital, their own and that of their employees. They also agreed that true leaders are able to see failure as part of their life’s narrative, and how their businesses helped them to heal their own personal or collective stories, and care about those who work for and with them. Real leaders in no way feel naturally « entitled » to use and abuse those in their private and work life. The words which I was left with at the end of this time together were « care » and « healing. »
Gry Osnes is based in London and has worked in Scandinavia, and has carried out research specifically on family businesses in places as diverse as tribes Zimbabwe and the fashion industry in Europe. Matthieu Langeard is based in Paris, and has worked with some of the biggest French companies, as well as with venture capital, individuals, entrepreneurs and those who are directly involved with questions of leadership.
One distinction Langeard made early on was between « Leaders » and « Managers. » The word « leader » is derived from the Old English word for « Pathfinder, » whereas « Manager » comes from Latin, and refers to the place where one trains horses. A Leader creates new pathways, whereas a manager tries to keep an existing structure in place and « train » those under him or her to work within that context. Leaders find failures part of learning, whereas managers tend to have a hard time talking about failure.
Gry Osnes clarified differences between European and American ways of dealing with « Leaders » or « Managers »: in the US, often a CEO is a Founder and/or is also Chairperson of the Board whereas in Europe the CEO a…