The last few decades have seen a major change in the culture of many companies. The implementation of new technologies, and the emergence of companies dedicated to the creation and optimization of software, has revolutionized companies in many crucial aspects.

An important part of the study of group psychology is dedicated to these processes of change in organizations and, in particular, to the most effective leadership styles that can be developed according to the context and certain conditions.

Interview with Josep Puyuelo, Project Coordinator at Escuela Europea de Coaching

We have moved from a rigid and hierarchical business culture to companies governed by very different values. One of the most interesting aspects of all this social and organizational change is precisely knowing how this new ecosystem has affected the leaders. Are today’s leaders different to the leaders of one, two or three decades ago? What are the key skills in leaders in today’s context?

We met with Josep Puyuelo, Project Coordinator at EEC, to find out his view on this subject.

Bertrand Regader: How has the concept of what it means to be a leader changed in recent decades?

Josep Puyuelo: Due to the fact that technological environments and markets are constantly changing, in the last few decades we have gone from a hierarchical leadership to the need to have agile leaders, who generate in their team the look of continuous adaptation, and with a leadership at the service of the team.

Organizational structures are increasingly flat, which requires intra-enterprise, committed and adaptable teams. This agile leader must be so in a digital and multi-generational context, where agile tools are generating a real revolution as a management philosophy.

From your experience with people who are being trained as leaders, what are the skills that are most difficult to learn in order to effectively lead teams of people and organizations?

Although it always depends on each professional, empathic listening is one of the skills to which we devote more effort in training. This is a skill that helps the leader throughout the employee journey , contributes to strengthening the bond, generating confidence, enhancing the understanding of the other and, therefore, improving our communication. Empathic listening is essential to give feedback, bearing in mind that the leader needs to generate continuous and agile learning environments.

If you had to stress the importance of three skills that a leader must have, which ones would you choose?

As I mentioned earlier, empathic listening. It is essential so that the leader-coach turns the collaborator into a protagonist through the understanding and accompaniment of his decisions and thus contributing to his development. However, we usually listen more to answer than to understand the other.

The question is another tool that allows the leader to open a space of reflection, to understand the other and to generate responsibility and different possibilities of action. And finally, the leader must have “responsibility-ability”, understood as the ability to take charge of one’s own “capacity to do” and leave space for that of others.

What is the role of coaching in the training and theoretical education of managers, department heads and other positions that are in a high or intermediate position in the organization?

Executive coaching training serves as the lever from which the professional begins to identify ingrained limiting beliefs that are making it difficult for him/her to achieve his/her challenges. Questioning these beliefs leads to the discovery of new approaches that until now have remained outside the field of vision.

Executive coaching also helps to navigate through the emotions that are blocking the achievement of a vision and helps to distinguish which emotions will facilitate the achievement of results. In this process, and anchored with the new “insight”, the leader puts into action new dynamics that enable him to achieve his objectives.

Many times people talk about how a resume is not as important as it seems if there are no social and communication skills to support it. Can you lead by having only the technical and practical knowledge of the work to be done, but not being too skillful in dealing with others?

In my opinion, there are very few environments in which achieving results depends only on technical skills and does not require collaboration and coordination with others. People are the most important asset of organizations and proof of this is that HR Departments are evolving in their name and are now People, People & Culture Departments, etc.

We can even find Happiness Officers in some companies. Leaders can be better or worse technicians, being able to rely on people in their team for certain issues or details, but they must have highly developed soft skills to inspire, set an example, empower, align and drive change.

Sometimes it is also obvious that there is no work without workers, and that these are human beings like any other, with emotions and feelings. What role does EQ play in team management?

Emotional management is fundamental for self-leadership and for leading other people. Knowing and understanding my emotions and those of others helps in our communication and in improving relationships at all levels.

Having knowledge about what emotion is driving or stopping our own actions or those of the team members is a differentiating element in the transition to that transformative leadership I referred to at the beginning of the interview. A leader is one who is capable of generating the emotional space necessary to achieve results. If the team is afraid to make mistakes or to change, it will be difficult to obtain sustainable results in time.

Do leadership skills often become apparent only in the area of authority, or are they also expressed in other areas of life, even if unintentionally?

We all have a chance to have the leadership of our lives. This means taking responsibility and acting on our personal values with authenticity and consistency between what we think and what we do. We always have the freedom to choose how we want to live, taking responsibility for the consequences of our choices and being aware of our emotions. If you change, change the world.

What do you think the leaders of the next decade should look like?

The leaders of the future must operate in a context of accelerated change and increasing complexity. This is already a reality in today’s organizations. Agile Leadership is a trend that revolves around three fundamental concepts: communication, commitment and collaboration. The ultimate purpose of this leadership style is adaptation to change and transformation. To this end, it is critical that leaders have consolidated digital competencies such as collaborative learning, networking and strategic vision.