Leadership and good management: Indispensable to be considered world class

In our country, we need more leaders like Alberto Benavides- individuals who have their sights set on the long term and are willing to invest in the country and develop human capital, just as he has done for more than fifty years.  A short while ago, a sociologist friend commented that Alberto Benavides was one of the pioneers in the 1970s in  efforts to hire anthropologists to better understand communities in order to develop more harmonious relations. In this case and in many others, Alberto Benavides was ahead of his time. Like a true leader, he demonstrated the capacity to inspire his collaborators during the difficult political and economic times that afflicted the country in the  50’s, 60´s, 70´s, 80’s, 90´s and the first decade of the 2000´s while never losing sight of his corporation’s mission and his optimism. Today, Mr. Benavides is eighty years old and his company has millions of shareholders throughout the world; he is a shining example of decency, humility and wisdom in business. In 1979 and 1980, I was lucky enough to work with Buenaventura Mining Company as an intern. I learned a great deal about how to create an environment in which cooperation and innovation produce results that far exceed the average.  All of us recognize a “Hot Spot” as described by Dr. Lynda Gratton of the London Business School. We feel great energy and our minds are full of ideas and the desire to share them with others. These are moments and places in which other individuals’ ideas and discoveries combine miraculously with our own in a synthesis process that generates newness and innovation. These are times when we embark on a collaborative journey to explore what was once boring or distant. All of us know when we have experienced a “Hot Spot,” when working with others has never been more exciting and stimulating and when we know in our hearts that the things we are achieving as a team are important and transcendental. I learned this at Buenaventura Mines and apply it at the company that I founded almost twenty years ago.

In Peru, we have fought to achieve full democratic liberties and free ourselves from authoritarian governments. We need leadership, legal knowledge and a great deal of courage to eradicate political systems that have restricted the population’s participation in decision making processes.  Many Peruvians died and suffered persecution during numerous decades to achieve the freedom that we currently enjoy. Today, we need the same courage and commitment to do something much less complex:  use this liberty that cost us so much to achieve to free ourselves from fears of investing and thinking big. I believe that we need more business energy and courage to create more companies, generate more wealth and aggressively modernize our society, enriching and globalizing our Peruvian identity. To accomplish this, we need leaders that set ambitious goals for our companies and Peru. This has been the case of Alberto Benavides and many other Peruvian businessmen that have had and still have the courage to believe and invest in the country. Today more than never we need leaders with energy, commitment and strategic ambitions that will allow us to develop a dynamic and vigorous business class that can help eradicate poverty in our country.  If our leaders establish timid and mediocre goals, we will be a mediocre country. Leadership is the art or process of influencing individuals so that they will voluntarily and enthusiastically strive to achieve a goal. To accomplish this, modern leaders must gain the trust of their followers. People have high expectations of their leaders. Followers demand increasing capacities, integrity and commitment. Leadership consists in a reciprocal relationship between those who decide to lead and those who decide to follow. Any discussion regarding leadership must take this dynamic into account. Strategies, tactics and codes of ethics will be useless if we fail to comprehend the emotional ties that connect leaders to their followers. What is expected of a leader? What is the guiding purpose of a specific leadership effort? We cannot renew our businesses and communities until we have provided a coherent response to each of these questions.

If we have yet to understand the relationship between leaders and followers, we cannot achieve the world class business of our dreams. It is not enough to generate rational adherence to a leader by means of financial stimuli or mechanized behavioral engineering techniques that treat individuals like Pavlov’s dogs. Genuine concern for collaborators cannot be faked. People feel it when we are acting. The true secret to leadership is authenticity; individuals must feel that our actions are guided by a sincere interest in their well being and a sense of transcendence that goes well beyond the economic.

The components of a good leadership are the following:

•    Capacity to inspire
•    Capacity to create and influence the future
•    Capacity to use power with efficacy and in a responsible way
•    Capacity to develop an environment that favors communication, innovation and the socio-emotional support for individuals

The challenge of leadership is ensuring that individuals voluntarily take on what they would not normally assume.

Characteristics of leadership:

•    Competence
•    Ethics, morals
•    Lead through example
•    Appreciated only some times
•    Always respected
•    Accepts responsibility
•    Not always entertained
•    Not always compensated materially

Formula for leadership:

•    Establish goals
•    Reach people’s brains and hearts
•    Set high standards
•    Do not give confusing signals
•    Reward success
•    Provide opportunities to learn
•    Always do the right thing

We must stop feeling and thinking like losers. Let us assume leadership to convert our businesses and country into something big. If we think like leaders, anything is possible.