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Leading is not about saying what people should do

By Hamilton dos Santos

A true leader is not the one who tells people what they have to do, but who offers dialogue and guidance. The key message was brought by Fiona Devine — a professor of sociology at the University of Manchester and head of Manchester Business School — at the First Aberje Leadership Conference held on February 20. With the theme “New Times, New Leaders – The Profile of Communication Leadership in Brazil,” the event was the first in a series of meetings in several Brazilian states that will present the results of a new Aberje’s survey on leadership in corporate communication in the country.

In addition to Professor Devine, guests Bob Philipson, Commerce Director of the British Consulate; Carlos Ramello, HR and Organizational Development of Aberje; and Edward Pimenta, journalist, director of G.Lab and curator of issue 103 of the CE Magazine; spoke during the event, organized by a partnership between Aberje and British Consulate and with support from SAP and Suzano.

At the meeting, I officially introduced Aberje’s agenda for 2019. Since 2015, Aberje has chosen a theme for the association’s activities during the year. In 2019, it will be “Communication and Leadership.”

Some key findings from the survey were shown at the meeting. One of the key ones is that women hold 69 percent of the leadership positions in corporate communications, but account for only 45 percent of the top-ranking positions in the companies they work for. The research also showed the lack of diversity in Brazilian business communication: 93% of respondents declared themselves heterosexual (5% said to be homosexual and 2% bisexual), 81% are white (against 19% of blacks and 2% of Asians). Only 1% of the respondents stated that they have physical disabilities.

According to the data collected, all leaders have undergraduate degrees, and only 7% of the professionals did not take another course after undergraduate, especially Latu Sensu or Specialization/MBA, attended by 71% of the interviewees. Most of them are between 26 and 40 years old (53%).

Professor Devine presented studies at the University of Manchester which address the issues of leadership, productivity, and well-being. One of the researches, by Robin Martin, professor of Organizational Psychology, shows that the quality of this relationship is one of the main indicators of well-being at work and directly affects attention, productivity, and creativity.

The moment shows that knowing how to lead is increasingly fundamental to the good performance of today’s corporations. And there is no good leadership without clear and straightforward communication. Giving our associates proper tools to communicate – and lead – has been the goal of Aberje for the past 50 years.