A woman with huge managerial expertise and presently leading a key player in the European energy industry (strategic and thorny for the future of our planet) couldn’t be better for the kick-off of the new season of SDA Bocconi MBA‘s Leadership Series. Patrizia Grieco, President of Enel, member of the board of Anima Holding, Ferrari and Amplifon, and former CEO of Italtel, Siemens and Olivetti, sums up the personality, background and vision of any leader facing the major challenges of our times. Listening to her experience and ideas is the best an audience of young managers can expect to get a 360° idea of leadership in an ever-changing world.
“Numbers are not the only measure of success”: Grieco makes her leadership style clear, right from the start. “I have great confidence in young people and in their ability to become leaders, but there’s no doubt that you will have to come to terms – as managers, and before that as women and men – with a changing context in which uncertainties far exceed certainties. Scenarios change so quickly that instability has almost became a constant”. This is a challenge only good team play can win. If change is now the managers’ daily lot, they can no longer be “solitary heroes or great minds locked in an ivory tower”. They will increasingly have to work on their interpersonal skills, on their ability to communicate, and delegate, “creating a team around them, not dominated by a monolithic way of thinking but enriched by different points of view”.
In the past, diversity was often looked at as a dangerous organizational bug; today, it has become a strategic asset. This implies developing “critical new competencies such as open-mindedness, flexibility, creative thinking”. Not an easy task but one deserving important investments. And in a ‘liquid’ world the most solid investment leaders can make is in their own education and training: “In order to embrace this change instead of suffering it passively”, says Grieco, “there is only one valuable recipe I can suggest: invest in yourselves through continuous education. Education is the main strategic tool to build a successful future”.
Above all the distinctive approach of today’s leaders relies in their capacity to be responsible: for their people and their organization and increasingly for their social and environmental context as well. To Enel’s president the value of organizational leadership is in the values it safeguards and fosters concretely and, indeed, energetically: “The most effective leadership is the one that comes from the example, from consistent behavior, and strong values. You have to really believe in it and share it with genuine passion. If you don’t put your heart and sincerity into what you do, you can maybe become a boss but you’ll never be a leader”.
SDA Bocconi School of Management