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Cultivating Leaders, Not Followers

How to develop talent from a former Hedgefund CFO


Josh Nadell

Navigating a VUKA World

          The increased uncertainties of the world have undoubtedly held an impact on many industries’ workforces and those environments as well. This phenomenon is often referred to by academics as VUKA, an acronym that stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, as well as ambiguity. This concept serves to supply great insight into the behavior of groups or individuals within one common environment, as it can effectively be utilized as an umbrella term to represent any challenge that may be encountered in the workplace. 


          Placing emphasis on the significance behind this acronym allows for any company to begin the transition from follower to leader. Regardless of the degree of talent at one’s disposal, the primary way to generate success at scale is to create a group of leaders who are motivated to problem solve practically and with great awareness. For any company that aims to facilitate the transformation from follower to leader, this concept must be the foundation of any effective command and control structure.

Five Elements to Involve Cultivating Other Leaders in an Organization

Regardless of a corporation’s best efforts to produce an effective group of leaders, there must also be efforts made on behalf of top performers that could better serve the entire company. By instilling these five guidelines for productive leadership among all employees and embedding them within core company values, a more natural incline in motivation is inevitable


This element explores your group’s full purpose and reason for being. This is a crucial stage in motivating all team members behind one common cause.


Make an effort to think of yourself less, and others more frequently. The intersection of humility and empathy is crucial at this stage as there must be an understanding of other’s goals in addition to your own.


Setting a positive example is most effective by modeling the behavior you desire from others. Establishing a circle of trust with teammates is crucial to operating on the principle of setting a good example and acting with high integrity.


Figure out what specifically you are solving for. Being deliberate and intentional with communication is necessary as you plan and delegate feedback


All individuals act in a manner that most greatly incentivize them, and in the workplace, this often involves treating employees as sources of labor rather than humanizing them

It’s difficult to inspire other individuals if the people in leadership positions are not commonly trusted. Thus, there must be a conscious effort to ensure that these top performers come to rise above the inadequacies of what exists in most workplaces to change company culture for the better, and this begins with cultivating a group of leaders.

As all successful professionals are currently being forced to navigate an era otherwise known as the Great Resignation, there is greater internal stress than ever before to cultivate a strong group of individuals, especially given the traditional transactional power dynamics between employees and their superiors. The widespread sense of codependence has limited the capabilities of many aspiring young professionals. Alongside this sentiment, there has been an extraordinary lack of natural leadership that has emerged from this demographic. 


In many corporations, there are two primary behavioral patterns that powerful executives may exhibit, those of diminishers and those of multipliers. While the intended role of anyone in a leadership-oriented position should hypothetically be to uplift those around them, executives who identify as diminishers commonly build a deeply rooted sense of distrust from lower-positioned individuals who feel as though their team is disempowered as a result of negative company culture. Though to avoid this, there must be a shift in how the definition of leaders is perceived by the corporate sphere. Regardless of status, anyone with significant influence may be considered a leader, as their primary role is to create an environment to inspire all team members to do their best work. By adjusting the lens through which this title is viewed, and further encouraging all top performers to take on this role, any company’s culture has the potential to undergo massive advancement.

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