Competencies of co-leaders – part 1

Preparing the Dream (4/5)

No doubt, our world has changed radically. Let me summarize here some of these big changes related to leadership. And in a nutshell, why I am convinced our leadership model is totally outdated.

  • There is increased demand for more collaborative practices and participation. We should no longer take any decision having an impact on ‘the private territory’ of the person without them.
  • No one can address the mega challenges by working in an isolated manner. Systems are co-dependent and there is a domino effect.
  • Another tangible thing we see everywhere is that natural leaders, without the status, affect more the change than strategic leaders who are appointed for this.
  • Any transformation must be bottom-up as well as top-down to create the kind of psychological safety employees need to embrace the new practices.
  • We trust more our peers, those who look like us, those who are close to us, and in our VUCA world trust makes all the difference.
  • The informal culture has never been more powerful.

This evolution had a profound impact on our systems, our expectations of them and our behaviours. And our leaders now see the consequences of this big silent transformation, having the impossible task of addressing a collective crisis with the leadership techniques of yesterday. In fact, while some of us were still sleeping (in other terms, too busy delivering), others became co-leaders of the future, who call for empowerment and sense of control.

But in In this blog post, I am not focusing on our leaders who did not see the wave of change coming. I’m not focusing on the bottom-up change leaders either. In fact, I am adopting a M / WE mindset (combination of me & we, which you probably know is close to my heart) and I am about to give this gift to everyone.

Especially, all of you who dream of an exceptional civilisation, that would stand up to solve our mega challenges and create a much better environment for the generations after us.

  • Time to speak about the new leadership competencies we need!

Over the years, as I was exploring the conditions for global collaboration, I elaborated the following competency framework. I wanted it to be pragmatic, specific and above all powerful. I have experienced it myself and continue to use it every day.

When designing it, I thought about the challenging, yet very stimulating life, of being a leader, in any form. In particular, I really wanted to care for Greta, when I saw this young girl taking the floor for the benefit of all of us.

The goals of the co-leadership skills, or pro-social skills as I like to call them are:

  • Adaptation to VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous
  • Intergenerational collaboration
  • Improved Performance
  • Connected Mind
  • Positive Energy
  • Sustainable Impact

I will start to list some of them here. And I will continue this much needed conversation tomorrow 🙂


Authoritarian, “command & control” behaviour has no chance in today’s context. It does not mean we can do without authority, it means we need a different kind of authority, a different language, which gives reassurance and security to act, especially when people are feeling overwhelmed or exhausted.

Good authority is about respect (created through transparency, presence and relationship, and no longer by fear, pressure and distance) and is about valuation, impact, that is given by others.

This type of authority is being created in relationships to:

  • Inject a sense of responsibility and a need for growth mind-set.
  • Set the standard “high” as people like challenges and complex tasks.
  • Give feedback on how people relate to their work, and giving the choice to act or not, based on this feedback.
  • Provide the opportunity to look for answers to problems, through the art of questions
  • Care about others who work with us, the things that affect their personal lives too
  • Provide basic rules and a framework for actions.

Managing Chaos & Coping with Uncertainty

Change is a constant in a VUCA world; this is why people need to be equipped to deal with the unpredictability of life in order to reach their objectives with serenity, through these two critical competencies to adopt.

  • Managing chaos means that we have to move one-step at a time, focusing on the present moment. Not being overwhelmed with problems but fixing them one by one. 
  • Coping with uncertainty implies growing self-confidence and adopting practices and tools to manage all this better, such as rapid-prototyping (the famous test & learn), letting go and attitude adjustment as well as an abundant mind-set, which will protect them from their fears, which are particularly activated in a VUCA world.

And in all cases, remember that inertia gives a sense of security, but, it is not a good strategy. People just hold to outdated frameworks. And resistance is never good. In fact, that we want it or not, we are a part of the flow of life, and if the context is changing, we will change too.

This is why, we have to encourage people to follow a benevolent movement, and first we have to create it!! Instead of letting them alone, in front of all the possible communities based on hatred (=resistance / fear) as we saw in previous blog posts.


In a world of constant change, people will experience a lot of stress, especially due to not knowing what is going to happen. We saw it, uncertainty is creating a lot of damage. This is why people have to learn to communicate as much as possible, to reduce the feeling of uncertainty. Sharing is power and reducing uncertainty by communicating more means that people have to understand the benefits of more transparency everywhere. Transparency = openness = working out loud to create value, connections and serendipity. We will see later the importance of blockchains. Promising times!

Authenticity & Vulnerability

Most management tasks can be replaced by robots. In the VUCA world, successful leaders focus on different skills, and especially they focus on people. They understand that this is the place to start to increase productivity because technology will never replace this. The most impactful skills in this new world are the capacity to create authentic relationships. People will follow you wherever you go if you are authentically yourself, and most importantly, they will be themselves with you.

It is about acting with integrity, having a strong moral compass and focussing on things that really matter. Vulnerability is the centre of meaningful human experiences. A true real leader is sacred by the respect of others which is not only earned through performance, it is also and mostly through serving others, admitting mistakes, high ethics, courage and being inclusive.. The characteristics of an authentic and vulnerable leader that create followership.

Critical Mind

What we expect from all of us is that instead of the passive, blaming unproductive attitude, we have by default, that we start to question everything we do today. This is how instead of being just seen as rebel, we will become entrepreneurs of the world, and collectively create better results in a more satisfying way, leading to more wellbeing.

But this change cannot be dictated! For example, we have to remember that minsinformed people never think of themselves as ignorant. On the contrary, they think they have enough and do not need more. The more we push new information to misinformed people, the more it is perceived as “propaganda” and the more this creates mistrust.

What is required, today, is to develop a culture of epistemic vigilance. We have to have open conversations about everything, inviting different viewpoints around the tables. And we also have to model the behaviours at the level of government institutions. That’s the only way to get to this situation everywhere. Why?

Behaviours naturally spread inside, because we are homo-imitans (Leandro Herrerro). Peer to peer influence is more powerful than anything else in our uncertain times. So more than ever, we have a tendency to copy what our peers do. Joining a collective movement reassures us.

This is why it has never been more important to create a more benevolent world, to empower people to dissent the current behaviours & processes, in an informal way. Something that needs to be supported by the leaders.

And this is my plan today with my initiative !:-) Hope you are still onboard and willing to contribute! To be continued tomorrow… The sky is the only limit!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s