To make a leader it takes a team

The Career Service offers planning, counselling, and training

(By Donatella Farina, Part-time MBA student)

30 October 2015

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. — John F. Kennedy

The character of a leader as a high estimated figure, alone and in the centre of the firm, does not work anymore. There is a big difference between a “top manager” and a real “leader”, the person that is able – with ability, but even with passion and a pinch of humbleness – to move a whole firm, not to mention an entire crowd.

Consolidated business models no longer work: today, leadership has to be 2.0 oriented.

This is the picture  that came out from the Leadership for Growth meeting, thanks to the highlights accurately drawn, from top managers that joined the debate organized by LUISS Business School, which was appreciated by our MBA students. In a world where everyone has a chance to visibility, the common goal is to leave a concrete mark to reach our objectives. These “targets”, therefore must be shaped in line with firms objectives, that are constantly changing. Consequently, according to Wind ADG Maximo Ibarra, the business model that we know is under pressure and the borders among sectors, competitors and partners are always less defined. In this scenario, the leader must have passion above all, along with free will, and a clear state of mind. Without forgetting ambition, because all leaders have a goal to reach.

To-make-a-leader-it-takes-a-team For Salini Impregilo CEO Pietro Salini, leadership means ruling programs, firms, but most of all, people. Before guiding others, we must know how to guide ourselves and overcome our limits, even personality ones, in order to be able to correctly deliver the shared dream, that all firms must share commonly. Acea President Catia Tomasetti, also shared her opinion of common interests related to the topic: the real leader has a long term vision, ready to look beyond the immediate results, that often are opposite to the stakeholders interests. Tomasetti also highlighted how firms have also changed the way to carry onward their business: top down processes no longer work, we must think about business models to adapt the new image of “enlightened manager” that personifies the real leader.
When the referred environment changes rapidly, firms must put into priority their stakeholders and be ready for change. Thus Nuzio Mirtillo, President of Region Mediterranean Ericsson, introduces the concept of leader as a person that can contribute to change, not only of firms. Commit for a sustainable world and contribute to reach the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals even through the three values that Ericsson follows thoroughly: Respect, Perseverance, Professionalism. Because leader means most of all being ready to take responsibilities, in a society – nowadays – that has lack of responsibility. This is the point from which Giampiero Massolo, President Department of Information Security, starts, explaining that the first duty of a leader is accountability. We must promote the learning virtuous experiences and rethink about leadership from a different point of view, such as creating a network among the government, public administration, firms and universities.

And Biagio De Marchis, Vice President IBM, underlines the distinctive tracts of the “candidate leader”: competence and curiosity, obsessions towards the “can-do attitude”, a deep knowledge of their firms and the adjacent ones. But first of all, to be fast enough to catch changes, be clear and short (rather than analytics) in communicating their messages, in order to engage and impassion people.


Marco Patuano, CEOTelecom Italia, introduces the concept of simplicity as “released complexity”. Therefore, used to converse in a firm in which engineers are the rulers, here is how leadership is explained in a formula: (Vison x Execution)^Value

The Vision of concept goes beyond obtaining an objective, nonetheless it consists in the humbleness of learning, in order to seek continuous innovation, within ourselves and firms. In the Execution there is the ability for the leader to overcome its own limits, important characteristic to learn how to work with others. The path to follow is traced by values: without an ethical approach, there is a risk – indeed – to lose the battle. Continuing on complexity Gianluigi Cimmino, CEO Yamamay and Carpisa, tells us the environment in which his group is performing. He underlines the complexity, if well managed, creates opportunities, too: it’s the globalization base and the challenge to face growth in new markets. We must be ready to manage tough changes, but in order to be able to face those challenges we must be well prepared. He highlights Massolo’s message: future leaders should be driven today, by walking them from the school system to the real job world. Because it is through the development of SMEs that Italy’s growth could restart. It is up to the firms to locate and invest on their talented employees. In this Sami Kahale, President & General Manager P&G South Europe, is very clear. He tells how P&G has among its values the one to shape and create their future leaders within the same firm, through long term career paths, in which they are chosen for positions that they deserve, only if they are able to aim for higher level ones. With no fear of changing, because only who can positively face changes will be able to manage and guide firms.  
Luigi De Vecchi, Chairman Continental Europe for Corporate and Investment Banking Citi, closes this debate wrapping up: a leader must have courage, humbleness and integrity, even by being able to say “no” when necessary. They should know how to speak to their employees, adding to the necessary “excellence”, a human and emotional aspect. Because, concludes De Vecchi, a leader cannot reach any result alone. To make a leader, it takes a team.

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