One of the most important qualities of a leader is vision. In any business process and decision, when all other requirements are met, it is the vision that makes the difference and influences the choice. Find out more in the interview below about why is the vision important to achieve excellence in an interview given to Florentina Caraiman for Revista Cariere by Adrian Blidăruș, CEO of Softelligence.
“I think you can be a valuable company by having a good leader, but to be at the top, you need a visionary leader,” says Adrian Blidăruș, CEO of Softelligence.
Why is the vision important to achieve excellence? Adrian accepted the challenge, and put performance under the magnifying glass, and, with an impressive dose of sincerity, talked about himself as a leader, but also about how he manages to challenge his team, motivate them, involve them so that together they can turn the vision into reality.
What are the main attributes, the indispensable qualities that make the difference between a leader and a visionary leader?
The leader is the person who leads his team from the “field”. It is the person who puts leadership skills into practice and spends as much time as possible with the people in their team. A leader must do, not just say what needs to be done. A visionary leader, however, has that extra something, that idea that they go out with. I think you can be a valuable company by having a good leader, but to be at the top, you need a visionary leader.
I cannot imagine a leader without a vision. After all, people choose to follow you towards something, towards a goal. It is your responsibility as a leader to clarify the goal and support them to be the best version of themselves. The journey matters too, but in the absence of a goal or your ability to paint it in vivid colors, I can’t imagine how you can get people to follow you. After all, to achieve truly bold things, you must believe in them before they even exist.
“Tell me how you lead, so I can tell you what kind of leader you are.” I challenge you to have a conversation with yourself, do a 360-degree assessment, and tell me: what kind of leader do you think you are?
Dynamic, driven by goals, but also by compassion, open, transparent. When I go into the office, I don’t have a confined space, precisely because I don’t consider myself to be lower or higher than others. We simply have different roles. I share the same open space with everyone else, I drink coffee from the same espresso machine, and very often we share the same dining area. Sometimes I clean up after my colleagues and feel responsible to have a good coffee.
I find it essential that we are all different, have different ways of working, and manifest ourselves differently. What unites us are our common values. In other ways I am atypical. Some would say I’m very flexible, too flexible. I am a great believer in everyone’s desire to contribute and in personal responsibility for that contribution. That’s why, when someone asks me about the organisation chart, I smile. It has its role, especially for someone new to the organisation, but beyond that, one’s power and desire to make a difference cannot be put in a box or summarised in a title.
But through the “eyes” of your team, how do you see yourself? How important is your team’s feedback to you?
I like to think that the open style I encourage gives anyone the opportunity to give me feedback on anything. I don’t have a problem explaining a decision I make or being asked to do so. That doesn’t mean I ask permission, but I believe in openness. I’ve sometimes received less than flattering messages from colleagues and despite the first (very human, by the way) impulse to reject, I’ve always tried to see beyond the message and understand what I can improve and how. Every year, our employees fill out a questionnaire that anonymously evaluates their experience at Softelligence from several points of view. We are happy that year on year the results improve, which means that the goal is achieved: we want to know how we can be better, and we are taking steps to do so.
Who brings out your best qualities? What about your flaws?
People and results, on both sides. Although we provide digitisation services for companies in the banking and insurance industry, I see the human side as our competitive advantage. At the end of the day, technology is just a tool to help us achieve our goals. Our ability to relate and organise ourselves is at least as important as our dexterity with tools. In the flow of interpersonal relationships between us, between us and our customers, and between us and society, both our qualities and our flaws emerge. But as long as we remember to be humble, our qualities will always outweigh our flaws.
How do you make sure that the intentions behind your actions and decisions are correctly understood?
Decisions lead to actions, and actions produce effects and consequences that are sometimes positive, sometimes negative. Beyond intentions, outcomes and consequences are our responsibility. As long as we have the same mission and we are driven by the same values, intentions are not questioned. Of course, communication is important to be able to relate and organise ourselves, but also to share our feelings or ask for help. A job well done is more than a sum of tasks. It also means pleasure and interaction. And in the process, we need to take care of ourselves and each other. We need to focus both on what we have to do and on the general area of ‘wellbeing’.
“Wellbeing is more about educating and understanding each other’s basic needs, such as rest, or understanding how to stay healthy and fit, both physically and mentally. I think being aware of these things and factoring them into decisions is more important than having spa facilities in the office.
How do you manage to harmonise your vision with that of the people you work with and, more importantly, how do you manage to challenge, motivate and engage them so that together you turn vision into reality?
Again, it’s about the mission and shared values. Then, creating a framework in which we can tell stories: customer stories, success stories, failure stories, aspiration stories. And to take the time to sometimes be more creative than effective. As has been shown, we are most effective working from home, online. To be creative, we need to be together, not necessarily and only in the office (or what the office will turn into).
Also important is an environment where we feel safe, and when I say safe, I don’t mean without responsibility for decisions or actions, but an environment free from prejudice and discrimination, from bullying, an environment where we respect each other. It’s okay to debate and always disagree as long as we respect and care for each other. After all, it is important to create an environment in which we can grow, and each has a voice.
One of our favorite words in Softelligence is togetherness and many of our approaches go in this direction. 77% of employees feel that their line manager always or very often cares about them, according to the annual internal survey. 75% feel that everyone’s opinion almost always matters and 79% believe they have the opportunity to perform at their best in the company. I think these are motivating things.