How to Think Like a Leader, Act Like a Leader with Herminia Ibarra [Highlight Video]


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As many young HR and business professionals make the move from the classroom to the office, and then to the boardroom, there are a myriad of lessons and challenges they will face. As many of us can attest, learning and developing never ends (if anything, it accelerates as you get older) and it can become obvious that what got you to the current point in you life and career, won’t necessarily get you to another point. The real question that many of us will face is how can you develop your leadership acumen whilst navigating the uncertainty of the professional world.

Herminia Ibarra delivered a keynote address at the 2017 HR Congress in Brussels entitled Think Like a Leader, Act Like a Leader which specifically dealt with this issue. Ibarra’s primary contention is that business professionals usually go about leadership and learning the wrong way. Oftentimes, aspiring leaders have the idea that their specialist and technical skills alone will be enough to guide them through their learning journey. However the reality is often much different. Ibarra states that “we all tend to repeat what we know how to do” and this may not be sufficient to carry us and the enterprises we represent forward.

To make the move from being a leader who has relied upon established technical and specialist expertise, towards being a leader who is required to motivate and persuade those around them isn’t a simple equation. This is something that often does not come naturally to some people, and requires a concrete shift in mindset, as well as an enhancement of certain leadership ‘soft’ skills. Ibarra suggests that this is a challenge because the technical content or skills that professionals possesses are not always easily translated to others, or do not actually help to create an environment where people around them want to learn and experience meaningful interactions.

Ibarra suggests that difficulty arises when leaders prioritize thinking and strategizing over action and experiences. It’s quite reasonable position to assume that a leader should be thoughtful and introspective, right? Well, yes and no. The reality is that acting and then learning from outcomes is a sure-fire way to develop a pool of personal experiences, which creates a platform for further learning and development. Ibarra argues that leaders must keep the ideal of the possible self as a motivator for themselves personally, but must also instill this vision within their team members and fellows. Ibarra calls this the process of “increasing outsight”. By sharing the process of creating outsight with others, a leader positions themselves as someone who is more balanced in thinking and acting like a leader, and can begin to influence others with their experiences, passions, and ideas.

Watch the full video below! [20 minutes]


The 3rd HR Congress Brussels will take place on November 27-28 and will feature 50+ speakers and a selection of sessions that will explore a huge range of topics! Make sure you follow the HR Congress blog and social media channels to stay up to date with the latest information, and for more interesting ideas and content from around the world of work!

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