A fresh perspective on leadership: 5 lessons from the 2020 Drucker Forum

Mazars is a long-term partner of the Global Peter Drucker Forum, an event gathering every year forward thinking CEOs and prominent leadership thinkers.

This year the Forum, which was held virtually on 28-30 October, was dedicated to the theme “Leadership everywhere: a fresh perspective on management”. Peter Drucker was convinced that the art of management formed the basis of well-functioning and prosperous economies. In this peculiar year, these reflections are all the more relevant.

Mazars, for the fourth year running, was the top sponsor of the Drucker Challenge – an international essay contest among students and young entrepreneurs. Why? Because as the first employer of young graduates, we have an important role to play in educating young people to managing for good.

Participating in the Forum is always the occasion for us to take stock of the latest developments in management practices across industries and countries, as to continuously evolve our Mazars University leadership programmes. This year, 55 of our leaders participated in the forum and this is a summary of their takeaways:

A fresh perspective on leadership: 5 lessons

  1. Bust bureaucracy
    Bureaucracy is a 19th century technology which dehumanises organisations, whereas to succeed in today’s environment we need the most human of qualities, such as empathy. Humanocracy puts people at the centre of organisations, not structures and processes. People are no longer the instrument, but the organisation is. Covid-19 has shown that people at all levels of the organisation can rapidly manage themselves, so organisations should capitalise on this to decentralise decision-making.“The following quote from Zhang Ruimin made particular sense to me: "people are not a means to an end, but an end in themselves". Not that I consider people as means, but yet, I think this definitely triggered something in the way I want to manage.”
    Laurence Karagulian, Partner Audit in Banking Industry, Mazars in France
  2. Create a culture of psychological safety
    Leadership is no longer about driving efficiency but about creating environments where people feel engaged and can contribute, fail and learn. Be vulnerable, share unfinished work and strategies, and don’t shy away from admitting that sometimes you just don’t know the answer. Be available and communicate transparently. In an increasingly remote word, showing that you are present for your teams is crucial.“As a leader I will make an effort to let go and not decide for others, so as to shift to the empowerment of individuals to take their own decisions to achieve a collective goal. Also, moving forwards, I will talk about my fears more.”
    Florence Sardas, Partner IT Audit & Consulting, Mazars in France
  3. Continuously develop your teams
    It is no longer about what you know but what you can learn. Managers should think every day: what is the curriculum I am teaching my teams at work? Developing teams means giving them feedback, coaching them but also challenging them to take on roles outside of their comfort zone.“This event has reaffirmed, as a leader, my role is to look to continually develop my team by giving them different roles and responsibilities and stretch assignments.”
    Christopher Cicutto, Partner, Mazars in Australia
  4. Purpose is the name of the game
    At a time when everybody has to be their own leader, we need to execute at the collective level. To achieve this, people must feel part of something bigger. Focus on value creation for the customer, team and society, and look at where your business can develop ESG products and services. This will shift employees’ attitudes at work.“My responsibility from now on is to develop a strong culture within which people will feel part of something important and will be willing to contribute, not because they are rewarded for it, but because they believe in it.”
    Deborah Joye, Tax Executive Director, Mazars in Switzerland 
  5. Lead yourself first
    You cannot just lead others; You need to lead yourself. Always bring your best self to work and lead by example. Taking care of oneself will help take care of the team, as a leader should take the stress out and convert it into energy, not the other way round. Additionally, leaders who do not take responsibility for their own development pose a threat to their organisations. “I have a tendency to get up and work early, work throughout the day and then work again late at night, so I'm reminding myself that I need to do things to take care of myself as well as coach other team members on the same.”
    Mike Fried, Partner, Mazars in the USA