What it takes to be a great leader | Roselinde Torres

What it takes to be a great leader | Roselinde Torres


What makes a great leader today? Many of us carry this image of this all-knowing superhero who stands and commands and protects his followers. But that’s kind of an image from another time, and what’s also outdated are the leadership development programs that are based on success models for a world that was, not a world that is or that is coming. We conducted a study of 4,000 companies, and we asked them, let’s see the effectiveness of your leadership development programs. Fifty-eight percent of the companies cited significant talent gaps for critical leadership roles. That means that despite
corporate training programs, off-sites, assessments, coaching, all of these things, more than half the companies had failed to grow enough great leaders. You may be asking yourself, is my company helping me to prepare to be a great 21st-century leader? The odds are, probably not. Now, I’ve spent 25 years of my professional life observing what makes great leaders. I’ve worked inside Fortune 500 companies, I’ve advised over 200 CEOs, and I’ve cultivated more leadership pipelines than you can imagine. But a few years ago, I noticed a disturbing trend in leadership preparation. I noticed that, despite all the efforts, there were familiar stories that kept resurfacing about individuals. One story was about Chris, a high-potential, superstar leader who moves to a new unit and fails, destroying unrecoverable value. And then there were stories like Sidney, the CEO, who was so frustrated because her company is cited as a best company for leaders, but only one of the top 50 leaders is equipped to lead their crucial initiatives. And then there were stories like the senior leadership team of a once-thriving business that’s surprised by a market shift, finds itself having to force the company to reduce its size in half or go out of business. Now, these recurring stories cause me to ask two questions. Why are the leadership gaps widening when there’s so much more investment in leadership development? And what are the great leaders doing distinctly different to thrive and grow? One of the things that I did, I was so consumed by these questions and also frustrated by those stories, that I left my job so that I could study this full time, and I took a year to travel to different parts of the world to learn about effective and ineffective leadership practices in companies, countries and nonprofit organizations. And so I did things like travel to South Africa, where I had an opportunity to understand how Nelson Mandela was ahead of his time in anticipating and navigating his political, social and economic context. I also met a number of nonprofit leaders who, despite very limited financial resources, were making a huge impact in the world, often bringing together seeming adversaries. And I spent countless hours in presidential libraries trying to understand how the environment had shaped the leaders, the moves that they made, and then the impact of those moves beyond their tenure. And then, when I returned to work full time, in this role, I joined with wonderful colleagues who were also interested in these questions. Now, from all this, I distilled the characteristics of leaders who are thriving and what they do differently, and then I also distilled the preparation practices that enable people to grow to their potential. I want to share some of those with you now. (“What makes a great leader in the 21st century?”) In a 21st-century world, which is more global, digitally enabled and transparent, with faster speeds of information
flow and innovation, and where nothing big gets done without some kind of a complex matrix, relying on traditional development practices will stunt your growth as a leader. In fact, traditional assessments like narrow 360 surveys or
outdated performance criteria will give you false positives, lulling you into thinking that you are more prepared than you really are. Leadership in the 21st century is defined and evidenced by three questions. Where are you looking to anticipate the next change to your business model or your life? The answer to this question is on your calendar. Who are you spending time with? On what topics? Where are you traveling? What are you reading? And then how are you distilling this into understanding potential discontinuities, and then making a decision to do something right now so that you’re prepared and ready? There’s a leadership team that does a practice where they bring together each member collecting, here are trends that impact me, here are trends that impact another team member, and they share these, and then make decisions,
to course-correct a strategy or to anticipate a new move. Great leaders are not head-down. They see around corners, shaping their future, not just reacting to it. The second question is, what is the diversity measure of your personal and professional
stakeholder network? You know, we hear often about
good ol’ boy networks and they’re certainly alive and
well in many institutions. But to some extent, we all have a network of people that we’re comfortable with. So this question is about your capacity to develop relationships with people that are very different than you. And those differences can be biological, physical, functional, political,
cultural, socioeconomic. And yet, despite all these differences, they connect with you and they trust you enough to cooperate with you in achieving a shared goal. Great leaders understand that having a more diverse network is a source of pattern identification at greater levels and also of solutions, because you have people that are thinking differently than you are. Third question: are you courageous enough to abandon a practice that has
made you successful in the past? There’s an expression: Go along to get along. But if you follow this advice, chances are as a leader, you’re going to keep doing
what’s familiar and comfortable. Great leaders dare to be different. They don’t just talk about risk-taking, they actually do it. And one of the leaders shared with me the fact that the most impactful development comes when you are able to build the emotional stamina to withstand people telling you that your new idea is naïve or reckless or just plain stupid. Now interestingly, the people who will join you are not your usual suspects in your network. They’re often people that think differently and therefore are willing to join you in taking a courageous leap. And it’s a leap, not a step. More than traditional leadership programs, answering these three questions will determine your effectiveness as a 21st-century leader. So what makes a great leader in the 21st century? I’ve met many, and they stand out. They are women and men who are preparing themselves not for the comfortable predictability of yesterday but also for the realities of today and all of those unknown possibilities of tomorrow. Thank you. (Applause)

100 Replies to “What it takes to be a great leader | Roselinde Torres”

  1. Interesting points here and I believe the whole thought applies not only to leaders but to all people (who have a dream, who wants to be better than he was before) in general.

    I especially like and agree her thought on the 21st century as an uncertain thing that is why we should not rely on the "predictability off yesterday" but shape our present for the future. Her talk is actually calling all of us to be brave for what we want for our life. 

  2. Leadership is all about thinking different, taking risks, doing the unpredictable and anticipating the outcome above all giving courage to your associates. Roselinde Torres tries to unravel the myths associated with the modern day leadership.

  3. well that video was sort of unhelpful. im not really sure what makes a great leader after all those all were phrases (if nice phrases) after all… :/

  4. Applying antiquated leadership theories and practices to prepare 21st Century leaders is ineffective.  More leaders should be involved in the development of future leaders and not regulate those tasks to Human Resources departments. Competency based assessments assassinate creativity and stifle leadership growth. I share the same sentiment about 360 assessments. 

  5. Alright let me just sum up what she said real quick for you guys. What makes a good leader… a fucking good idea and a whopping set of balls. Can't succeed if you don't have either

  6. management 101: make sure you were fertilized by a person (with the "impression" of power) that is the most significant achievement, 2 use your habsburgs contacts to land a job, 3 hire a lot of incompetent people to look like you re working 4 be part of a lot of associations to perpetuate incompetence 5 if you hire a smart worker, use a chinese unattractive person to frame that person out of the industry 6 this is female power and the state of the world today 7 if nothing works prove with military equipment that the female psyche is not made for leading

  7. wow… i got nothing out of this. Platitudes. Reinforces my belief that 80s era consulting firms are obsolete in a world of bold ideas and agile iterative moves.

  8. Out of the 9 minutes video, only the last 3 minutes is useful to me: build an emotion stamina that able to withstand criticism against your idea

  9. she spends more than half the time setting up the point and then says practically nothing. why is someone so accomplished bragging so much?

  10. I agree Roselinde. One time workshops aren't a sustainable solution to transform on'e's leadership. As we say "Our issues were created in relation to another human being; therefore our wounds can only be healed in relation to one another. Often our wounds were created in your unconscious, in your iceberg. Our job is to help crack your code and melt your iceberg."

  11. This was a disappointing talk. This is pretty basic leadership stuff, I was expecting something more insightful and inspiring, especially from a Ted talk.

  12. Doesn't really describe what it takes or what you can do that defines a leader?? Dissappointing as it is a TED talk!

  13. I think leaders are some how made from their childhood. I don't think I know of anyone who studied and became a leader

  14. So Roselinde Torres is in fact a MD at a BCG branch. LOL LOL ROFL. The supposedly all inspiring, business savvy groups of people who can coach the greatest industry leaders with powerpoint templates. Such a waste of talents, if you think about it. Those smart students of top university grads, then going on to do these kinds of jobs.

  15. A 9 minute 20 second video and more than 50% introduction. When the main body is eventually arrived at, it is just meaningless jargon.

  16. Most of this isn't right. The key is in self confidence, rhetoric and your aura. Trump is an awesome example, because he got president. #Fact In this way he's my role model. It worked for him and his supporters. He's a leader for them.

  17. Define diverse network? Does it include rapist, drug dealers, thieves? Does it include quid pro quo? I have saw a manager act without thinking about the consequence; when the riot occurred the manager claimed that they had to act quickly. The gist, the manager started a fire and put it out then claimed victory and promoted they were a great leader because they knew exactly how to stop the riot.

  18. Hi all,
    It would be great if you help me by completing the following survey for an academic research paper on leadership (no more than 5 min)
    https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/LN66LYR
    Many Thanks

  19. I always claim leadership in school group work and I take the risks I make sure everyone is doing it right and I tell them what to do if they say that my way is not efficient I take the risk and the longer they stall the more time they lose because I know what’s good on groupwork

  20. I’m little and I wanna be someone big in the future but…what I see right now that makes a great leader is logical risks, getting along with each other despite differences, being peaceful, and taking steps not words if I’m wrong with something or if you suggest something please tell me I really want to be successful as a leader thank you.

  21. Erich Schönleitner says "Don't put the job, or other people or anything else first. First you, and then the others. They then will feel that you are true and authentic, and you will be more able to help them than if you neglect yourself." – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfaEbs9ZK1Y

  22. Pooor comm.skills…dont teach me…inspire and motivate me….this brings forth leaders….find your God given purpose this makes Great Leaders

  23. ALWAYS REMEMBER
    We also need inspirational leaders who guide , and empower others to capitalise and galvanise on the negatives as positives , resulting in greater awareness and resilience alternatives to all levels of criticism.

  24. I really enjoyed this talk.
    It gave good context as to why my generation has emerged with great dreams and not enough to actually make it.

  25. I don't recall this female or any female being a great leader. When yuo are a great leader then you can talk about great leaders.

  26. This speech would have been good if it had lasted 30 seconds. She speaks much, tells little. One key secret of leadership is to be NOT boring.

  27. A leader can appear in different forms, but the similar thread between them all is integrity between your words and actions, ability to learn and adapt, and someone who welcomes risk into their life.

  28. I don't think she even answered the topic. She just added like 20 more questions in 10 minute presentation… I didn't get much out of this tbh

  29. I don’t like that her images wasn’t diversed… it through me of because as a African American woman, I would love to see leaders that look like me… smh.

  30. Taking responsibility for a group and sacrificing one's desires for the greater good is typically what makes great leaders. They don't ask others to do what they, themselves, are unwilling to do or haven't yet done.

  31. Her three items, I think: Where are you looking to anticipate change? What is the diversity measure of your network? Are you courageous enough to abandon the past? From the way she talks, she is a consultant that helps chief executive officers build a staff with a couple of innovative people. I am guessing that the reason no persons were named in this talk is because whatever the CEO does as a result of one of the innovative people's, the company wants to keep it secret to prevent competitors from copying.

    Lucky for us, the work of you and me and our kids of finding a pathway into the extraordinary unknown global warming future will not mainly be done by this activity of hiring people which is called 'cultivating or training business leadership'. Let us toast each other with Odwalla fruit juice, (a division of whoever). In my opinion, the impossible thing which business must learn to do is subdivide itself, over and over.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *