Identifying the leaders of the future, by Gail McManus, Founder and Managing Director

1 July 2020 | Gail McManus, Managing Director

Emotional intelligence was identified as a key attribute of future global business leaders in my recent panel discussion 

Leadership

I recently took part in a panel where we were asked to identify the key attributes of future global business leaders. Interestingly, while you might expect a long list of qualifications and credentials, particularly from a recruiter like me, this discussion focussed almost exclusively on emotional intelligence.

One of the most important features I look for in a leader within the private equity space is resilience. This industry attracts extremely high achieving people and it can be difficult to separate one spotless CV from another. As a result, when I interview, I like to know what these people have been enabled to achieve and what they have achieved through sheer grit and determination in difficult circumstances. I always ask about the worst situation they’ve ever had to face personally and how they dealt with it. You’ll be able to identify the future leaders as those who know how to cope when things go wrong.

Partly because of the competitive and high-performing culture within private equity, many people set impossibly high standards for themselves. I’ve seen the drive for success create an incredible fear of failure and a tendency to self-punish among great investors. A good leader is someone who can manage this culture and the risk of these characteristics tipping over into mental health issues. This takes an openness and sensitivity that’s hard to articulate on a CV.

My fellow panel members (full list below) also raised great points during the session about inspiring leaders banning the word ‘failure’ in order to encourage learning opportunities. This creates a wonderful sense of stability and trust, an environment that leads to growth.

To hear the full discussion, head over to CM Murray’s website where you can stream the podcast.

The panel discussion was part of the International Forum of Senior Executive Advisors (IFSEA) International Conference on Risk, Reward and Reputation Management Issues, which took place in London in February this year. The panel was hosted by Alison Young (Leaders in Charge) and featured myself, Rick Vassell, (Barclay Card), Dara McCann (SES Satellites) and Asha Haji (Founders Academy). 

About the author

Gail is the Managing Director and founder of PER, setting up the business in the late 1990s after a career in private equity at 3i.

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