Written by Stewart Easton, General Manager of ERCE
ERCE opened its Asia Pacific office in October 2015, at a time when the global energy markets were in turmoil. A counter cyclical risk for a relatively small independent consultancy, predominantly Europe, Africa and Middle East focussed. It would need not just true leadership and excellent management, but the commitment and backing of a team, through extremely tough times, to achieve this change of vision.
Leaders and managers are prevalent throughout our organisation, but what exactly is leadership and what distinguishes it from management?
Leadership is a word and concept that is used in abundance throughout our industry, but often without any real knowledge of what it is actually referring to. Part of this difficulty lies in the fact that there is no common, agreed definition of ‘leadership’, and also that situation has an impact on leadership - what will lead to effective leadership in one situation may be disastrous in another.
However, it seems that there are two common factors. Firstly, that leaders initiate, they take the lead with enthusiasm and commitment. The second is that leaders bring people with them and share their vision. Leaders are neither born nor made, they are both – a lot of which comes down to personality, life experience and mentoring through the early years within our industry.
We, at ERCE, believe that much of our task is about enabling and empowering others to move individuals, teams and organisations forward – no matter how inexperienced, autonomy and being given the opportunity to develop these skills are key to our core values and growth. Trust is hugely important; as one of the “positive universal” emotions it causes our brain cells to soften and are open to forming new neural pathways, i.e. learning growth, innovation and so on. Therefore, with trust, the opportunity for learning and sustained new pathways, both in our brains and outside them, truly exists.
Many confuse leadership with management, but there is a clear distinction between the two, and also a clear need for both in the appropriate situations. Some of the best project managers in our business are not leaders, but as we’ve learnt we clearly need both within our organisation to excel and grow through the challenging cyclical business we all operate under.
Leadership can be a personal thing. The way an individual leads depends on their personality, emotions and values, along with a keen awareness of the vision that they are trying to reach. Self-awareness and self-management, with social awareness and relationship management all contribute to our emotional intelligence and makes us the leaders we are.
Can an individual person as a leader invoke the vision required for change in a company such as ERCE? Probably, but along the way they will bring with them a group of people who are leaders themselves and share their vision.
I will leave you with this quote….
Changing the world?
When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.
I found it difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.
Now, as an old man, I realise the only thing I can change is myself, and I suddenly realise that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could indeed have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.