There has always been an element of debate as to how good leaders are created. Some may hold the view that good leaders are simply born with certain qualities which make them effective at what they do, some believe that leadership is something which is learned and that one can develop into a good leader throughout life. Others may feel there is some combination of both in play. However, in the eyes of Olivier Tsemo, CEO of Sadacca Ltd [The Sheffield and District African Caribbean Community Association], leadership is something that can be learned not necessarily by teaching, but by observing influential leaders of past and present, understanding them and their attributes, and using their example to develop oneself into a leader.
In order to inspire the next generation in such a way, Tsemo stressed that leaders in all walks of life must have the ability to take people with them, lead by example and be able to have a tangible impact on people’s lives, highlighting the examples of two of his own heroes in Nelson Mandela and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex.
Speaking on the Leaders Council podcast, Tsemo said: “A leader is somebody who is judged on outcomes of course, but I feel they must be able to get people to buy into their vision and be able to have a real impact on the lives of others.
“When we think of inspiration leaders, I look back at Nelson Mandela’s life and the change he made for his whole country, and so many people now look to him as an inspirational leader. I also look at somebody like Prince Harry, he is a talented leader for his generation, and strikes me as being someone with a clear mind who knows what he wants, fights for his vision and can take people with him and align others with his point of view.”
When it comes to the challenge of bringing together a team of people, Tsemo explained that the most influential leaders are not only able to align others with their views, but also bring together a diverse team of people with different attributes and create an environment where everyone can use their individual qualities to benefit the collective.
“A great leader can bring a diverse team together. People who may not have the same vision can be brought together by a great leader, be encouraged to use their attributes together, and then through that, a leader will eventually have the whole team buy into the vision and what they are trying to do. A great leader’s ability and skills to do this are ultimately how they’ll be judged.”
When asked about how the next generation can develop the skills needed to become effective leaders, Tsemo took the time to elaborate on his view that the current generation must inspire the next, and the next generation must be willing to observe and learn.
Tsemo said: “The skills you need to become a leader are more observational. You can’t really learn these skills at school or be born with them. You must look at people you admire, in my case Nelson Mandela and Prince Harry, learn from their strengths and weaknesses and use their example to influence your own leadership style. In my life, I would say this is the approach I have taken to mould myself into a leader.”
Once young and aspiring leaders have developed this foundation, Tsemo added that the benefit of experience once they take the professional world in their stride will then help them blossom.
“The benefit of experience is the next piece of the puzzle. I would say that if you are a leader wanting to lead a great team, you need to know how a great team works and for that, you must be part of a great team at some point in your life.
“I have been lucky to work in many different sectors and observe great leadership while working in great teams. That has helped me make myself into the person I am today and go on to lead my own team.”