Embracing differences leads to effective leadership

LS International

There can be no denying the value that an organisation gains from having a diverse workforce. A range of backgrounds, cultures and experiences bring valuable human capital to a company. If the workforce embraces and shares the organisation’s ethos and vision, diversity in the workplace can create a highly successful workforce.

But what about the importance of leaders? Every company needs them, but what is it that makes an effective leader? Different styles of leadership will bring about different results and certain styles of leadership will be more suited to particular situations.

Since 2015, Stijn Demeersseman has been General Manager Commercial Operations CPD for the UK&I at L’Oreal. The team of 150 that he leads has achieved the highest market share growth and turnover for 15 years. With a record like that to his name, his opinions on leadership certainly have credence.

With leadership, it’s very much a case of ‘different strokes for different folks.’ People will always have different opinions and give different definitions of what leadership means, but the one that resonates the most for Stijn is: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Stijn also advocates that leaders should have strong connections with staff and teams. He says. “… I have a great bond with previous team members, previous colleagues and it shows to me that when you are able to build something beyond the day to day, beyond the business, beyond the numbers, it actually gives you a much bigger reward than purely your business results.”

Stijn also sees challenge as a crucial factor and believes that leaders need to be very challenging and demanding of the teams they lead – as well as themselves. He talks of the need to create a culture of “mutual trust, intellectual challenge and passion.” If this is achieved, he believes, that teams will achieve high performance, not least because there is a very rewarding culture evident.

Stijn Demeersseman has always done his best to bring people from different backgrounds into his teams – which he likes to call task forces or tribes. He wants to build a “collaborative spirit and to make people feel that they are part of something bigger than purely their own job and their own day to day business results.”

In fact, embracing differences is a major part of his outlook. Seeing the world and being in touch with what is going on with life outside the office is very important to him. Staying connected – with previous employers, but also people from other industries – means that you come into contact with professionals who have completely different skills sets and a different range of experiences. In his opinion, this constantly challenging of oneself is an excellent approach for leaders to take.

As Stijn puts it, “Yes, your own job is very important, and yes, you need to be successful in your own job to be able to progress, but you’re only going be so successful if you keep in touch with people out there.”

You can also listen to Stijn Demeersseman’s full Podcast with LS International here.

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