SUnaina Rana / EMIRATES BUSINESS
As Ralph Nader said — the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers — the same principle is followed by US-based Young Presidents Organisation (YPO). Founded in 1950, YPO today provides 23,000 peers and their families in more than 130 countries with access to unique educational and networking experiences designed to support their business, community and personal leadership. At YPO, the members are the leaders who share in common the achievement of success at an early age (before 45), a commitment to learning as a lifelong adventure, and a desire to connect authentically in an environment of trust and confidentiality.
Following the event when the member of YPO reaches the age of 50, members transition to YPO’s graduate group, WPO (World Presidents’ Organisation). WPO is a global community within YPO of current and former chief executives dedicated to enriching each member’s lifelong journey of leadership, growth and significance through education and idea exchange.
Santiago Sanchez is the 2015-2016 chairman of the YPO International Board. The international chairman is YPO’s highest elected office. He is a member of the Guadalajara and Mexico One chapters in the Latin America region, Sanchez is YPO’s 64th international chairman and the first to hold this position from Mexico in YPO’s 65-year history.
Sanchez is president of COA Internacional, a Guadalajara-based company focusing on distribution of dental instruments, materials and equipment. With five fellow YPO members, Sanchez also founded the Guadalajara Angel Investors Network, which has successfully pioneered the start-up ecosystem in Guadalajara.
Emirates Business talks to Santiago Sanchez, Chairman of YPO, regarding his experience and expertise as a leader.
EXCERPTS FROM THE INTERVIEW
Please shed some light on your journey so far, as the YPO CEO. How has it been?
My YPO journey has been one of the constant renewal and opening of new horizons. Every time I reach a goal, I have had the opportunity to be inspired by one or more of my peers to seek another mountain to climb. A great learning of YPO is that from each leader there is something new and relevant to learn. The best part of the journey is finding which of those models can better fit my needs at the time and pursuing excellence while adopting those learnings.
Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
To me, leadership is service, and I am always inspired by those who I aim to serve. At this point in my leadership journey as international chairman of YPO, my fellow members are my source for inspiration. I truly cannot name one single person, as I have been impacted by many in such positive ways, including those I’ve partnered with in common projects, under their leadership, or as a ‘servant leader’.
YPO was founded in 1950, it has connected 23,000 business leaders across 130 countries. How does YPO influence its members leadership or business?
What separates YPO from other leadership organisations is that our members create life-changing experiences for their peer leaders. YPO today provides business leaders and their families with access to unique experiences, extraordinary educational resources, alliances with leading institutions, and participation in specialised networks to support their business, community and personal leadership. Most importantly, YPO provides members with the possibility to access each other to exchange ideas that will help them grow in all aspects of life.
Personally, my YPO journey has transformed both my view of YPO and myself. Today, I cannot draw a line between YPO and my business or family life as they are completely intertwined (as they should be). YPO has allowed me to take the practice of leadership to a level I would have never been able to do on my own. This shows positively in the way I lead my business and I interact with my family.
YPO has the broadest and deepest reach and access of any chief executive leadership organisation in the world. YPO has more high-quality leaders, in more places, and more of them, than any other organisation.
Importantly, no one scales trust faster than YPO. We offer members an unrivalled atmosphere of confidentiality, respect and trust. YPO programming is diverse and inclusive, including professional and personal development seminars, forums, events, networks and more.
SMEs form an integral part of the economy, but at the same time supporting SMEs can also be challenging, what advice would you give to the young entrepreneurs to administer their business during such situations?
Small business owners wear many hats and make many decisions each day. But in a small business, every person is critical to the operation. One poor performer can have major negative impact. A sudden resignation by a key contributor can slow production of goods or services. Finding new talent for growth or to backfill openings can drag out for months because the owner is distracted by other activities or simply doesn’t have the skill to find good talent.
Motivating the current team members can be overlooked or not be an innate talent of the owner. I’ve advised young entrepreneurs to block off a few hours to consider carefully the performance of each member of your current team. Determine those who are critical to their success and what you can do to motivate and retain them, then do so. Determine those who are not performing successfully and what action you will take to address this, then do so.
But, businesses exist to make money, and most small business owners run their finances without adequate planning or oversight. They monitor bank balances, accounts receivables, and expenses, but most don’t have a basic financial forecasting and reporting/monitoring structure in place.And, it’s important to commit to a regular schedule to review the reports, comparing your results to forecasts and previous time periods.
And, of course, surround yourself with people who can help you along the way. Find a mentor that you can trust as you make key decisions regarding staff or finances. Mentors act as a sounding board, advisor, developer, role model, networker, teacher and champion. Mentors share wisdom and knowledge while helping create better leaders, providing the energy, dynamism and stimulations necessary to build momentum.
What would be one characteristic or a quality you believe a leader need to possess to achieve success in life?
I actually believe that a successful leader must possess five key traits: Humility, resilience, a unique combination of self-confidence and self-doubt, empathy, and generosity.
As a CEO within the YPO network, what is one big challenge you have seen?
It is interesting that most of the very successful CEOs I have met face varied degrees of challenges that success brings: How to integrate work and family? How to go from success to significance? How to find new and different motivations? How to innovate by acknowledging that there may be some better answers outside of my current success status? How to stay curious? And so on.
Which are the aspects/traits of a leader that one needs to enhance to become a better leader?
A good leader must understand that there is no such thing as a “man or woman for all seasons.” Not understanding when not to lead can turn into difficult learnings. Thus, a required trait is humility.
I think that to be a good leader you also need to be a good listener. Strong leaders take the time to really listen, even in the midst of a crisis. They create an environment that solicits open communication and suggestions from others. Leaders stay calm during trying situations and pay attention to the recommendations being offered. This again requires humility, but also empathy, as people will trust only when the empathy is there.
I believe good leaders understand the influence they have and realize that their positive outlook and confidence can help the rest of their teams maintain a positive attitude as well. Ultimately, the most effective way to lead is through example, so a great degree of “Self Awareness” is necessary.
Finally, I would like to add that the type of leadership that is characteristic of YPO members is Servant Leadership, where the leader is servant first. It is through service of others and service of higher causes that leaders may thrive.
What would be your advice to the person who has just stepped into the position of leadership?
In sharing my experience, I would tell that person that the journey has just begun. That there is no point of arrival and that he/she must be prepared to learn and upgrade his or her skills perpetually, to be prepared for that. To not seek glory, but rather to seek the common good, and that virtually anything can be achieved provided that taking credit is not important to the person. Also my biggest advice would be to have fun; no one wants to follow a person who is not enjoying and happy with the task at hand.