What is leadership? How do we become leaders? Lesley Traverso, speaker for the Leadership Forum, prepares to deliver her presentation on leadership. She addresses these questions and tells us what this term means for actuaries in all levels of their careers.
A discussion on “Leadership” and what that means is not complete without incorporating the important topic of diversity in organisations. It is good leadership that drives diversity, and poor leadership that stymies it.
Good leadership is not just the preserve of those with high level job titles and lots of reports, it is a many faceted trait that encompasses leadership of oneself, thought leadership within a profession as well as the wise leadership of others.
Leadership is a lot about inspiration. Inspiring ourselves by the decisions we make and the way that we react to others’ decisions; inspiring others to achieve their best by giving them respect and space and so that they, in turn, can inspire others. That makes for a better world. It is about (to paraphrase Einstein) “striving to be of value.”
But who has the right “stuff” to lead? Are leadership traits inborn or developed? According to Jack Welch, the three key ‘baseline’ traits for any good leader for which there is no compromise, are integrity, intelligence and emotional maturity. The first two are key hallmarks of the actuarial profession, the third sometimes takes a little longer to develop.
The actuarial profession is highly regarded and full of intelligent people who value and treat others with the utmost respect and integrity.
The Actuary can take a commercial and astute way of thinking into broader situations and more diverse industries. That abundance of leadership traits that exists can be put to good use in challenging the status quo and seeking out opportunities to champion diverse thinking in our own organisations. Diversity is not just a male vs female representation issue, it is the colours of our communities, the disabilities and the sub-cultures like LGBTI. It is also professional diversity. Why recruit the person who has the resume that shows they are a clone of the rest of your team, why not bring in some left field thinking?
The ability to be inventive, to create new techniques and constantly evolve is all part of the actuarial tool kit. However, many people are conservative, wary of change and like to stay in their comfort zone. We all operate with unconscious bias whether we want to or not, that is part of being human. So, how do you start to chip away at that? How do you encourage diverse thinking in your organisation?
It all comes down to adaptability. Which are the organisations who are going to embrace the technological changes as they happen so quickly? Which organisations are going to think “lets re-invent that process from scratch to do what it is supposed to do, not what it has always done.”
Adaptability and lifelong learning are two more attributes of the good leader. Without adaptability there is no future.
The Leadership Forum will be looking at some really interesting, and perhaps controversial issues - considering the future of the actuary at work, whether there is a lack of diversity in the profession and what we should be doing about it, how we could change our approach to hiring, whether the Actuary of today will be extinct in 10 years time. Now that might be controversial!
I am looking forward to a really exciting session and hope to see you there!
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