Longevity and leadership: an Angela Merkel masterclass

Image of German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Businesspeople can learn from Angela Merkel’s approach to leadership, says Chris Niarchos. (Image: 360b / Shutterstock.com)

Angela Merkel was elected to her record fourth term as Chancellor of Germany last month, making it evermore clear that this woman knows what makes a great leader.

Of course, there are many “right” ways to lead – different styles bring different qualities to the table – but there’s no doubt that the business world can learn a whole lot from Merkel’s approach and staying power.

Calculate your risks

Merkel once described how, as a child, it took her an hour of standing on a diving board before she was able to jump off. “That’s how I am; not particularly courageous. I always need time to weigh up the risks,” she says.

She’s been given flak for being overly cautious, but Merkel’s ability to weigh up risks has kept her leadership steady.

In business, accurately assessing potential risk to reward is critical. You can’t always play it safe, but making sure you know what is on the line is the best way to avoid taking a poor gamble.

Be pragmatic

Perhaps because of her science background, Merkel usually takes a methodical and pragmatic approach in dealing with issues of the day.

She once said: “For me, it is always important that I go through all the possible options for a decision.”

Such an approach can be hugely beneficial in business as well as politics. Rather than acting on impulse, giving yourself space to make a decision will often prevent you from reacting to a situation emotionally.

There are times when it pays to go with your gut, but you should make sure your head gets a say too.

Stand apart from the crowd

Merkel entered politics with no political background. She’s a divorced Protestant woman in a Catholic party. Nothing wrong with any of that, of course, but it does highlight that she’s clearly used to being a member of the minority!

But far from letting that hold her back, she’s used it to her advantage and built a reputation of courage by never being afraid to be a lone voice.

Following the crowd can only take you so far; to reach the top you need to be willing to make bold moves alone.

Having confidence in yourself is such an important part of business. If anyone’s going to believe in your ability to succeed, it should be you!

Chris Niarchos is a lifelong entrepreneur and founder of The Cobra Group of Companies, which specialises in incubating, developing and managing a portfolio of start-up enterprises and successful companies.

 

Why leadership doesn’t have to be lonely

Being a business leader can give you a great sense of professional achievement and satisfaction, but it does also have the potential to be lonely at the “top”. You have ultimate responsibility for the success of your company and this puts you in a unique position within your company seroquel medication.

However, my own experience as an entrepreneur and in leadership roles tells me that heading up a business doesn’t necessarily have to be isolating. Drawing on observations I’ve made throughout my career, here are some suggestions that could help you to stay connected to the people around you.

Encourage a cohesive team

People sometimes mistakenly think that being in a leadership position means you must have all the answers. In fact, the most successful entrepreneurs understand the importance of tapping into the talents and experience of others.

Great leaders build strong teams around them and encourage people to connect and collaborate with each other. In turn, this builds a strong sense of team spirit that reaches right to the top of organisations.

If you cultivate a business culture in which your colleagues are part of the decision making process and feel connected to your company’s underlying goals and objectives, you’re much less likely to have the sense that you’re on your own.

Reach out to others for support

It’s also important to realise that it’s okay to ask others for help and support. Being a leader doesn’t mean you have to be infallible. Even the best entrepreneurs experience difficulties from time to time – and being able to turn to people can help them cope.

Connecting with mentors or fellow entrepreneurs can be especially useful if you’re just starting out in your business career and I’ve found that these relationships can last throughout your career.

This idea is at the heart of Appco’s business model. Our business is built on the philosophy that, regardless of whether you’re an Appco employee or a self-employed contractor within our face-to-face marketing and fundraising network, you are in charge of your career, but also have the mentoring support and expertise of the Appco network to help achieve your goals.

Make yourself approachable

The way you interact with your colleagues will also have a big impact on your connections to people in your business. If you come across as aloof or intimidating, the people around you are more likely to keep their distance.

I have made an effort throughout my career to make myself available to people at all levels in our organisation, and at all stages of their journey in the wider network. I hope it has been as beneficial to those around me as I have found it myself.

Ultimately, I believe that  a very big part of successful leadership comes down to being approachable and welcoming input from others, which also allows you to continue to work more closely with – and learn from – your colleagues.

 

As the Cobra Group of Companies’ chairman and founder, Chris Niarchos has many decades of experience as a business leader and knows how to overcome a range of challenges associated with running a company. He has steered the Cobra Group to international success and continues to strive for excellence both for the company and himself.

How to earn respect as a business leader

Respect isn’t something that business leaders can simply expect; it is something they must earn. My career has taught me that if someone wants to be well regarded by their team members and the business community more widely, they have to show leadership, courage and a range of other compelling characteristics. Following are some of the qualities and actions that I believe to be crucial if you want to be respected by the people around you.

Lead by example.

To inspire your team to be diligent and committed, you must lead by example and be an inspirational and positive role model.

Those in the Appco Group network will most certainly have heard this business described as one where we “show don’t tell”. And I believe this is extremely important because people are much more likely to respect and emulate you if they know that you practice what you preach.

On the other hand, if they see that there are differences between your personal approach to work and the approach you expect others to adopt, they will be less likely to trust you as a leader.

Set high standards.

I am also a great believer in setting high standards for yourself and for the people around you.

If others see that you’re willing to cut corners or you’re prepared to settle for mediocrity, their estimations of you are likely to fall and their own standards may drop.

My experience tells me that people are most likely to respond to a leader who strives to achieve the very best in all they do, and who challenges them to do the same. The harder you work for something, the more you value it.

Have the courage to make bold decisions.

Having the foresight and nerve to make bold business decisions will earn you self respect as well as the respect of others. For example, challenging the status quo and step out of your comfort zone in order to improve your company may be a difficult move in the short term, but this is the only way to develop as a business leader.

And, even if a decision doesn’t work out the way you planned, you will gain respect for taking the leap and, just as importantly, learning from the experience regardless of the outcome.

The leaders who people really look up to have the courage of their convictions and are prepared to take action even when the odds seem stacked against them.

Show respect for and appreciation of those around you.

Showing respect for others is essential because, as I highlighted in a previous blog, every great entrepreneur needs a great team around them.

Acknowledging the successes of your team members, rewarding their hard work and treating them with courtesy and respect, will build people’s trust in you as a leader and encourages the same qualities in them. On the other hand, failing to recognise the achievements of others can dent morale and the ultimate success of your organisation seroquel 100mg.

Be confident in your abilities.

This plays a big part in gaining the respect of others. After all, if you don’t believe in yourself, you will have a hard time convincing others to back you.

There may be times when you doubt yourself and wonder if you are up to the job of running your company, but it is crucial that you stay positive and have faith in your skills as a leader, and in those around you.

 

Chris Niarchos knows exactly what it takes to earn respect as a leader. As founder and chairman of the Cobra Group of Companies, he oversees an impressive portfolio of businesses. For more facts about Chris Niarchos, check out this Bloomberg Business profile.