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Commentary | 15 November 2021

Network reflections: What does good leadership mean to you, and who has inspired you?

Image of Nathalie Loiseau

Nathalie Loiseau |Chair of the European Parliament Security and Defence committee and MEP

Global Security

This piece is part of the #ELNat10 anniversary series

Good leadership means being out in front, setting new ideas, standing up for what you think is right, and bringing people along with you in order to get things done. Anders Fogh Rasmussen

Good leadership means being out in front, setting new ideas, standing up for what you think is right, and bringing people along with you in order to get things done. Good leaders are clear about what they intend to achieve, whether in politics, the boardroom or elsewhere. Not everybody has to agree with them, but they should know that they say what they mean and mean what they say.

US President Harry S Truman was one leader who inspired me. He understood the need for the United States to show global leadership, even when it made him very unpopular domestically. He led America to build a rules-based international order in its image of freedom, openness and democracy. While he may not have had short term popularity, the legacy of his work is 70 years of relative peace, prosperity and progress.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Former Prime Minister of Denmark and former NATO Secretary-General

A former German Foreign Minister once told me that accepting criticism was included in their salary, an invitation I regularly issue to my own team to encourage critical thinking and a healthy feedback culture. Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger

A former German Foreign Minister once told me that accepting criticism was included in their salary, an invitation I regularly issue to my own team to encourage critical thinking and a healthy feedback culture within the Munich Security Conference. At the same time, this call reminds us all to continually listen to, think through, and possibly embrace dissent. I am a strong supporter of critical dialogue and an open door for all staff members. Continuous dialogue is beneficial to all: staff, leadership, and the organisation as a whole.

Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman, Munich Security Conference

In Casamance, leadership is not considered a privilege but, rather, a responsibility. Nathalie Loiseau

When living in Africa, I came across traditional leadership in Casamance, where the King of the Floups’ role is to provide peace and social cohesion to his community. In case of conflict, the King’s role is to reconcile parties through consultation. The day a new King of the Floups is elected, it is believed that the war in Casamance will end. I was impressed by this notion, that a leader was chosen to serve their community and to ensure cohesion. In Casamance, leadership is not considered a privilege but, rather, a responsibility.

Nathalie Loiseau, MEP, and Chair of the European Parliament’s subcommittee on Defence and Security

The ELN undoubtedly has all three components of true leadership. It has a clear vision of a Europe it would like to see, it is committed to its noble mission, and it has been very successful in engaging new members and partners. Igor Ivanov

Leadership, in my view, is mostly about three interconnected things. First, it is about vision. A true leader should be in a position to rise above immediate problems, concerns and ambitions and to conceptualise challenges and opportunities, which are only looming on our horizon. A vision of things to come is a fundamental component of any leadership. Second, leadership is about commitment. You cannot lead if you cannot focus on your goals and put aside numerous distractions that inevitably appear on your way. A true leader should have the ability to distinguish between what is important and what is not; they should have a clear understanding of their priorities and sequences. Third, leadership is about motivation. To lead, you need to be in a position to motivate and incentivise others who can join you in your mission. A lone leader is a contradiction in terms.

The European Leadership Network undoubtedly has all three components of true leadership. It has a clear vision of a Europe it would like to see, it is committed to its noble mission, and it has been very successful in engaging new members and partners. I am sure that the next ten years of ELN will be even more inspiring and fruitful than its first.

Professor Igor Ivanov, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

The opinions articulated above represent the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the European Leadership Network (ELN) or any of its members. The ELN’s aim is to encourage debates that will help develop Europe’s capacity to address the pressing foreign, defence, and security policy challenges of our time.

Image: Vinoth Chandar