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Is Leadership a Rubik’s cube?

Author: Julie Maigret

What is more important than people today? You can have the right operating model in place, the right technology and the right business processes, but if you do not have the right people at the right place, you cannot sustainably succeed.

In the last 15 years, I have seen leadership styles evolving from command-and-control management towards a values-based leadership (the idea that leaders should draw on their own and followers’ values for direction and motivation). Top-down management is out of date. This is a fact. But unfortunately, many organizations underestimate how much this is still alive in reality. This doesn’t mean that some of your people might still need guidance and a defined framework to operate at their best. This is a different story than sticking to a command-and-control culture.

Let’s face it, leading and managing people is probably the most complex job ever. No one has a secret recipe for success, but some behaviours and attitudes will more than likely lead to failure. Your boss is losing his temper on you, putting you in a corner, humiliating you or even bulling you. Certainly not okay. This intimidating technic can break a person in a minute. Encouraging presentism at the office with interminable working days, promoting 24/7 connection being reachable at any time anywhere, so many stories we still hear that reflect the “red culture” 1. Thank god, things are changing, and the business world has seen the limits of these hierarchical models.

Depending on if you work in Europe or the US, or elsewhere, you will experience different management styles link to the local culture, and this is also the case within Europe in our various countries. Working in Paris will not offer you the same leadership style and culture in the workplace than in Belgium or London. So we can agree leadership styles are influenced by the organization’s culture and the geography amongst other factors.

The question is how agile you are and able to adapt to this diversity. In France, you will still find a more formal way of interacting with your N+1, which is likely to be less the case in the Anglo-Saxon culture. The size of the organization and its maturity will also affect the management style. The people in your team will need you to adopt different leadership styles for you to get the best out of them. As a leader applying best practices, you will take into account their generation as well as their genuine experience and background. Being a successful leader requires to be as a Rubik’ cube, multifaceted.

When looking at the current trends, the values-based leaders are perceived as the most effective ones. They practice humility, authenticity, transparency, collaboration and collegiality, even compassion when needed, and they encourage a culture of 360° feedback. They are concerned by their impact on people, and the impact of their business on society. They support sustainability (sustainable Leadership). They do their job with the environment, society and long-term sustainable development goals in mind (sustainability mindset). These leaders will embrace diversity – any dimensions of it – and inclusion, and encourage building robust and long-term relationships. In opposition to the “red culture”, they will promote a model of an inverted pyramid and empower their people. Values-based leaders will demonstrate greater openness to ideas and innovations. Naturally engaging and agile, they bring people together around a joint mission. They aren’t afraid of failing and will consider it as a learning path. They never get tired of learning, and they get their energy from it. With a passion for developing people, they possess all of the tools necessary to successfully inspire others and become an agent for change within any organization.

These successful leaders have a gift for connecting with other human beings.


In today’s workplace, traditional leadership practices are no longer effective. It disengages workers and can create job dissatisfaction. Working for or with real leaders makes a difference in happiness at work and positively impacts performances.

Impactful Leadership is all about adjusting to whoever you are interacting within whatever context you are in. It is about understanding the codes, the sensitivities and the challenges of others. It is about being empathic and perceiving how to get the best of people. So yes, Leadership is a Rubik’s cube as multifaceted, and at the same time, this vision is probably too restrictive. Leadership is an unlimited number of Rubik’ cubes with tons of different colours and sizes. It is a pack of chameleons living in many diverse ecosystems. And ultimately, Leadership is about being fundamentally human.

Let’s hope that these stormy days we are currently facing will create awareness amongst our leader’s community, in professional and political spheres and encourage organizations to further develop the “right” culture for a better and healthier workplace tomorrow.


Julie is an HR-Tech Entrepreneur. She brings expertise in the spaces of Technology & Digital talent strategy, digital HR transformation and diverse & inclusive workforce.

With almost 15 years’ experience in Recruitment and Executive Search, Julie has started her career in London with KPMG. Back in Belgium, she made her first steps in recruitment prior to joining Korn Ferry where she remains more than nine years. With the firm, Julie worked in Brussels, New York and Paris in various Industries and Practices. For the last five years, she focuses on Technology & Digital – as part of the GMT (Global Technology Market) and EMEA Digital Practice as well as the CIO Center of Excellence, she works transversally across industries leading local and international search assignments for Technology Officers. Julie has built expertise in identifying Tech and digital transformation talents.

She has served various industries from Technology to Manufacturing, Life Sciences, Professional & Business Services, Consumers Market, FinTech & Payment, Broadcasting and Not-For-Profit. She developed market insights in Digital, IoT, Industry 4.0, Data Science, Robotics & Automation, AI, Cyber Security and Blockchain amongst others.

In our Tech and digital world, Julie acts as a strategic advisor in people solutions when it comes to transformation and change management.

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