The Greek Crisis: What Does This Tell Us About Leadership?

Cross cultural awareness
Published August 19, 2015

I recently went on a trip to the Biennale exhibition in Venice, which showcases artists’ creations from around the world. I came across one building containing artwork from either Germany or Greece.  It was difficult to tell; on the outside of the building there was a Greek flag, but written on it was the word ‘Germania.’

I wondered whether it was a symbol of the ongoing animosity between Greece and Germany. The two countries have had tense relations for over two decades.  There’s been endless news coverage on this story due to the effect it’s having on so many other countries.

So what’s the issue here?  Identity. Do Greece belong to eastern or western Europe? Should they stick with their roots in ancient Greece or become more modern?  This identity crisis has led to rejection of change or restructuring.

So why’s this a problem?  Well, living in a VUCA world (ie Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) is the new normal and as such, we have to be able to deal with and embrace change.

In the same way that Greece is struggling to cope economically due to their resistance to make changes, we’ve seen many organisations suffer for the same reason. As a result, some have gone into administration.

So what does this tell us about leadership?  Greece’s leaders have tried their hardest not to make changes to avoid conflict with their electoral clients and unions within the public sector. The resulting debt, 26% unemployment rate and 25% loss of national income can be attributed to a lack of two leadership qualities; learning and courage.

So what do you need to do to be an effective leader?

Embrace and facilitate a culture of learning

Leaders set the organisational culture.  If they’re not change oriented and constantly learning, how can they expect others to be the same?  Look for opportunities to remain up to date with current knowledge.  Reflect on what works well and not so well, and apply this learning to new and different situations.

Analyse information strategically

Leaders need to be able to make sense of different types of data.  Use it to think ahead, create strategies for the future and make effective decisions even in difficult situations.

Be authentic and courageous

Leaders need to act with integrity and be authentic to themselves.  Have the courage to stand up for what’s right, even if you don’t think others will agree with your message.

Manage emotions, build relationships and inspire others

Leaders need to be able to control their own emotions, especially when networking within and outside the organisation.  Manage your emotions effectively, and you’ll empower and inspire others.

Be committed and results oriented

Leaders need to show enthusiasm and commitment to the organisation.  Be proactive and focus on producing high quality results.

So how do organisations thrive in the VUCA world? The answer is simple: recruit and develop leaders with 5 main constructs in mind: Learning, Intellect, Values, Emotions and Drive (LIVED®).

Find out more about LIVED® and watch our short video here, or get in contact with us for some advice.

Author: Clare Reyersbach

    Read more in Leadership & Management Development (LIVED)