THE BLOG

Real Leadership

27/04/2015 11:05 BST | Updated 23/06/2015 10:59 BST

There is clearly a very thin line when it comes to legal vs illegal 'rigging' of the stock market.

Navinder Singh Sarao was arrested last week for 'rigging' the stock market to the tune of $40 million in the 'flash crash' of May 2010. What he did was illegal. Clearly! (Although how dissimilar what he did compared to short-sellers, HFT and other 'legal' stock market manipulations, as well as why someone who's made $40m would live in a £350,000 house in Hounslow deserves another article).

By comparison, in four years time, when the new CEO at Tesco, Dave Lewis, cashes in $40m from the lucrative share options and bonus package he was no doubt granted by the board to lure him to turn around Tesco's, there will be the usual outrage at yet more 'fat cat' excess. We will all have forgotten the 'kitchen sinking' that he is being allowed to get away with this week (all perfectly legally) by writing down or off over £7billion to the Tesco balance sheet to give him a great head start. Now it's down to real leadership and real business skills to see if he can turn it around and get the business back on track. I wish him every success and hope he deserves what will be rich rewards if he delivers. The night is always darkest before the dawn, and 'Every little helps', as they say at Tesco's.

Peter Drucker once famously surmised that "Management is doing things right; Leadership is doing the right things." It's debatable if either Mr Sarao or Mr Lewis demonstrated either great management or great leadership. But I am sure Mr Lewis will end up 'getting away' with a fully legal stock market heist as long as he delivers the turn around over the next four years and demonstrates true leadership.

I doubt very much if either gentleman has a mentor or trusted confidante to bounce ideas off before pressing 'play'. Certainly the board of HSBC didn't seem to have a problem with their CEO channeling his rewards through a Panamanian offshore vehicle. Likewise, I doubt the board at Tesco will be resigning and falling on their swords en-masse in embarrassment for being in charge when the £7bn kitchen sinking items that were all thought to have value - magically disappear.

By comparison, Sir Martin Sorrell, who has in my opinion managed and lead one of the greatest UK business success stories ever at WPP - deserves every penny of his vast gains. He has done it the hard and honest way by building over a long time a truly global business success story. It's impossible to argue with the data of what he has created. That's why his board and shareholders allow his rewards to continue - as he adds real value, year after year on a sustainable basis. He demonstrates so many (but not perhaps all) of the qualities that so many great leaders use to build long-term success.

Working as a CEO mentor for over 18 years now, I have had the privilege of working with a number of truly inspirational 'greats'. The two traits that they all have though, are gravitas and charisma. They know their stuff and they emit an aura - even the shy ones.

They Lead - behind the scenes in times of calm and out in front in times of turmoil. Listen - always. They have ideas but are ready to replace them in an instant if someone has a better one. They Win and Lose - when they win, they share or give away the credit and when they lose, they take on the accountability. They Compromise - because although relentless and never giving up, they have to sometimes shift and change. They demonstrate Realistic Self-Confidence: understanding their own strengths and limitations; and although operating from competence, know when to rely on others. They have great emotional Insight: understanding their true feelings. They are Resilient: staying calm under pressure and recovering quickly from setbacks without brooding or panicking as well as having Emotional Balance: letting others know what's wrong and what the solution is. They are Self-Motivated: always moving toward distant goals despite setbacks, yet Empathetic: welcoming constructive challenges which requires Good Listening: two ears and one mouth - used in that ratio. Above all, they are Compelling Communicators: which leads to great Teamship: making people want to play in their team and give their best to achieve a shared mission and vision.

The world needs great leaders and we need to understand what great leadership is and what it looks like. We should celebrate true leadership, just as much as we should knock down the pretenders. And that is why I am doing my Learning from Leaders TV project.

Visit http://www.the-mentor.tv to see some of my interviews