Leadership without any doubt should be considered from many different aspects. To be visionary and innovative is one of the most important conditions to be a "good leader"...

When CEO's first edition was published, I had perceived this successful entrepreneurship and vision as a leadership for Turkish business and management culture. The target was clear. It could be clearly understood from the brand. The contents continued in line with the target. The first point that we intersected with CEO's magazine was with my interest in "leadership" literature and my efforts in trying to understand and search leaders in Turkish culture. Most of this effort, involves the interviews I have realized in the last 8 years with over 1000 top level Managers at the Amrop International Turkey office which I am the founding partner.

The journey I have started in order to understand leaders consists of my "head hunter" experiences both in Paris and Brussels offices, and the other interactions I have had with AMROP's 82 offices from 53 different countries with over 300 head hunters. In this article, we tried to share the similarities and differences between the organizational leaders in the world and the organizational leaders from Turkey, or the successful foreign leaders in Turkey and the Turkish leaders successful abroad. At these articles there is one point I want to specially mention. First of all I will not draw a "Leader Manager" portrait specific to Turkey. I do not choose to refer to any of these ten thousands of books published or millions of articles on the subject. I will approach the leadership concept from published materials who approach the subject above countries and with an international approach. My point is to share with you the leaders within us whom I have met and got influenced and remind us what a leader-full society we are. While reading these pages, those who wish may only get focused to the examples within us, and understand their point of view. Others may show further interest in references and literature examples and ask which one of these do I own. More fun is to try to find out which of the 22 leader characteristics you have, and you may even have it tested 360° to those who work with you, your peers, company partners that means everybody around you. These pages will be focusing on leadership, researching, and making one think with examples. The researches and publishing in Turkey are quite new, they have a history of ten years. If we examine them as original book or article, it is around 30. That means there is much research, analysis and most important comments to be done. Maybe courage.

GLOBE (Global Leadership and Organizational Behaviour Effectiveness) is a cross cultural research program which continues under the supervision of Bob House, a Management Professor from Pennsylvania University, composed of 154 researchers from 64 countries, which continues its research currently on international leadership (House, Wright, Aditya, 1997). In a meeting arranged by GLOBE, a universal definition about "organizational leadership" emerged. A leader was defined as " an individual who can mobilize and motivate another individual for the success and effectiveness of the organization which they belong". Simonton, who studies the lasting leaders in history and their characteristics, defines a leader in his book published on 1994 as "a person whose influence is much above the average group members in the decision of the groups attitudes, performance or decisions".
Just as there are different prototypes of cultures, cultures have different ideas of what a leader should be like. This can make being a leader in multiple cultures like Turkey difficult. Even if you can figure out what each culture wants in a leader, how can you possibly fulfill those expectations? Some cultures don't even like the concept of "leader". The cultural differences in societies influences individual's expectations, assumptions, and their attitudes toward others. As a result the leadership attributes in some cultures, may contradict with the universal leadership concept. However the studies made (by GLOBE with Bob House and 170 co-project workers all around the world) show that the 22 attributes listed below are accepted in all cultures and are possessed in leaders by different proportions.
Attributes of Leaders That Are Valued by Subordinates in Fifty-Three Countries:

1. Positive. Generally optimistic and confident.
2. Encouraging. Gives courage, confidence, or hope through reassuring and advising.
3. Motive arouser. Mobilizes and activates followers.
4. Confidence builder. Infuses others with confidence by showing confidence in them.
5. Dynamic. Highly involved, energetic, enthused, motivated.
6. Motivational. Stimulates others to put forth efforts above and beyond the call of duty and make personal sacrifices.
7. Shows foresight. Anticipates possible future events.
8. Plans ahead. Anticipates and prepares in advance.
9. Informed. Knowledgeable; aware of information.
10. Communicative. Communicates with others frequently.
11. Team builder. Is able to induce group members to work together.
12. Coordinator. Integrates and manages work of subordinates.
13. Trustworthy. Deserves trust, can be believed and relied upon to keep promises.
14. Just. Acts according to what is right or fair.
15. Honest. Speaks and acts truthfully.
16. Administratively skilled. Is able to plan, organize, coordinate and control work of a large number (over seventy-five) of individuals.
17. Win-win problem solver. Is able to identify solutions that satisfy individuals with diverse and conflicting interests.
18. Effective bargainer. Is able to negotiate effectively and make transactions with others on favorable terms.
19. Intelligent. Smart; learns and understands easily.
20. Decisive. Makes decisions firmly and quickly.
21. Excellence orientation. Strives for excellence in performance of self and subordinates.
22. Dependable. Is reliable.

From these attributes, which are accepted by successful leader managers in Turkey and how are they perceived in our culture. Prof. Muzaffer Bodur, Prof. Hayat Kabasakal, and İdil Evcimen, all academicians from Boğaziçi University, Business Management Department, have realized a study in May 2000 "Leadership, Cultural Values, Applications and Unsatisfaction : A Multi-national Comparison". This research which targeted mainly mid-level managers, the two attributes which effected leadership in Turkey were found to be "charisma" and "belief in team-work". Today, especially "belief in team-work", is the most agreed upon characteristic for leaders. Bernard Bass, who is considered as a guru on leadership, has summarized in 1990 over 100 research on cultural and sub-cultural differences on management behavior, attitudes, choices and motivational differences. In 1997, Baas defined four leadership characteristics that he has found to be universal. These include exhibiting:

  • Idealized influence or vision
  • Inspirational motivation or vision
  • Intellectual stimulation
  • Individual consideration

In 2002, the Center for Creative Leadership - which was nominated by Business week in USA as the most important center for the training of leadership, a book named Global Manager was published. These researchers stated that international business knowledge, cultural adaptability, perspective-taking and ability to play the role of innovator were necessary for an effective Global Manager.
As the result of both of the international researches mentioned above, we are approached by "being visionary and innovative" as the must of a leader. I also most often came across with these concepts during my "leader hunter" career and my projects in Turkey and Europe. Then having vision and being an innovator, what are these all about? All the researches and international publications come up with one common point. A leader is visionary. A visionary leader tries new approaches, is entrepreneurial, seizes new opportunities, generates new ideas, promotes an idea or vision, is persuasive. Forms novel associations and ideas that create new and different ways of solving problems and when necessary departs from accepted group norms of thinking and behaving. In their research, Center for Creative Leadership states that a skillful innovative leader tries new things, creates new partnerships, seizes new opportunities and encourages others to join this. In the global leaders world, the innovative role is pivotal to the capability axis. The role of the innovator is not only to understand the acquired new information and perception but also to create a behavior, product, procedure or service much bigger than the sum of this two cultures. In some ways the ability to "create something new" is the essence of being an effective international manager. This not only means to be able to manage the contents of globalization but also to be better by using it. However this is not an exotic or mystical talent. The skill in the role of innovator, is a step by step knowledge collecting process, to listen and learn to be careful, to give up the need of being I am right attitude, and the result of the search of useful combinations. When it is mentioned about innovative, visionary, of course we are reminded of people around us, people who we have met or people who we read from the media. And are these people whom are much spoken of, leaders whom we see often in the cover of magazines, are they really people with much leader qualities? Are all innovative and visionary? One has to know these people closely and analyze correctly their situations but maybe we can ask this like : Who can be lasting? How? If they were not the managers could we succeed the same jobs, could we put the same objectives? As I believe that I understand leaders, depending on my experiences, I would like to share it with examples.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Zeynep Aycan from Koç University has mentioned about many leaders in her Book, Management, Leadership and Different Human Resources Practices in Turkey and Human Resources Applications. According to Rahmi Koç, visionary leaders are creative and have foresight, so this brings correct diagnosis to events and produces appropriate solutions. Again Rahmi Koç gives as an example to visionary leadership Werner von Siemens, the founder of Siemens. Siemens constant growth around the globe is in line with the founders visions and ideas.


For this section, I have requested opinions from a few "visionary leaders". As we do not have the opportunity to meet constantly with these people, I thought it is interesting, so I am sparing a wide part for you. In this writing I will transfer to you leadership according to Mehmet Kahya, İbrahim Betil and Turhan Talu with an anectode from them. Mehmet Kahya is an example of a Manager from the Production Industry. In the last 15 years, in the process of Turkey's industrialization phase, first he worked with Özdemir Sabancı - who is no longer with us during the foundation of Toyota. Later on Mehmet Kahya catches our attention with his visionary attitude during the foundation of another company which is shown as an "example" to the world. We had met during a planed mega-merger in Turkey with the direct suggestion of the CEO of the company in USA.

Mehmet Kahya states for visionary leadership, "America needs to be explored once again" and adds "Not to repeat the known jobs,posts, to reach the goal from the short way stands in the way of creativity in Turkish entrepreneurship. In the crawling periods of Turkish industry, our people who are scared to ask during education, who are satisfied with what one is given and is happy, does not question, is shy or avoids questioning what is not being given where further restricted. Lately there are glitterings of Turkish Industry, sayings which challenge the world, there are signs, evidence, global vision declarations which proves that we can be better than "them". Whatever we do, an example of to work hard with the vision and ambition "To Be The Worlds Number 1" was stated by the employees in a packaging company called Carnaud MetalBox (now Crown Cork and Seal) in İzmit which is a 100% foreign investment. The plant, which produces aliminium tins for the drink sector, worked with high technology, and had started its journey in 1994 with the community from the region with young people with an age average of 28. Considering the economic crisis, which added then, the companys short-range future seemed shaky. However all the employees there, who wanted to be the best in the world in this sector, shortly was in the passion of becoming the most productive, most cost efficient, best quality producing plant. Around this ideal, not long but in two years time, a company was born where it was the center for this industry, where people came from abroad to be trained there and the employees became "sector doyens". The operators who were encouraged for empowered self -confidence advised revisions and practiced new production lines and machines, and these were later to be applied in the productions of companies who sell technology. These examples which are often realized lately shows that Turkish entrepreneurs, managers and workers have started asking, questioning, and forcing the limits and even though to the risk of deviations and repeating risks they have entered to the phase of "Re-inventing America" by working very hard.


Today, probably İbrahim Betil is the first to come to mind when we mention non-profit sector leadership. I have known him 6 years ago during his studies in Education Volunteers Society (Eğitim Gönüllüleri Vakfı) in which he had started after intense banking, management and ownership experiences. The first thing that struck was his "humanist" and "humble" approach. And the attitude in which he guided during the meetings was equal to an MBA degree for the people around the table. Later on I had friends who have worked for TEGV and one of them summarized very shortly İbrahim Betil as: After we have put the goals, he multiplies them with a 100 or with a 1000, expands the project, convinces us and we all together come together as one for this goal and realise it. Can there be a more clearly visionary leadership? According to the world literature to be a visionary leader, requires being powerful to subordinates without threatenening or pressurizing them, to motivate them, and to mobilize masses in line with a vision. Civilian society leader İbrahim Betil lists visionary leaders characteristics as such: "For the groups motivation, participation is important. Defining the goal should be done all together. The leader should communicate about the goal, should have it accepted and clearly understood. The teams' participation is also important for this ownership. The leader should know all the details of the job, if one does not know, one should learn from the one that knows regardless of the position. You cannot manage a job you do not know. The leader should undertake responsibilities in line with the companies' goals with a proper time management. Should survey. Should focus on the goal, and should do this as a life style, with action as well as words. Should be open to outer events, should be intrigued by novelties, and should apply technology.

İbrahim Betil tells about the effects of goal sharing of the visionary leader with his team: I was invited to a companies establishment anniversary where I had worked for as a top level manager for five years. I came across 500 ex-colleagues. When I was chatting with one of those groups a manager who had completed 15 years approached and said, "Dear General Manager, I still keep the congratulation note you had hand written to me at my first childs birth", another said "When you first came, there was a goal we had decided on together. I never forget...we had decided together, to catch the market share of firm X and exceed them. Now this company is long past..." Can there be a bigger professional happiness then hearing these words? Betil lists other attributes that a leader should possess: "Should listen to the bottom and team (not only hear or pay attention but to listen is important), should be very closely involved with what is going on in the field (market), more than theoretical, in the office sayings, to be inside real life is important, and the leader and team should be in accord with personal values and corporate values. The corporate ethical codes should be formed together with the workers. The leader should not suppress or overcome the people he manages. Should encourage people to speak up, and tell their opinions. The leader should be fair, should get constant feedback about decisions, and applications. The knowledge should be shared. The leader should criticize and be open to be criticized. The critic should not be to the person or the personal attributes but about the job, how the job is performed. Should constantly self develop and also clear the team members paths, give support to their personal development. Should empower them. Should trust all his team and the people in his team, he should prove his trust by empowering them. Should be an example with what he does, more with doing then by saying. Should pass time with his team, not only during work but time-to-time also out of work. Should be a support to employees' individual, personal and private problems. Should also share personal happiness. Should give importance and care to the personal development of team members."


15 years ago, I was working in an advertisement company as an Account Executive. Our customer was Philip Morris and on the other side (but always with us) was a Marketing Director who had also experience from Henkel, who thought extremely fast, who decided fast, who developed people and also educated us. We were kind of scared of him but at the same time admired him. At our first meeting he had put the goals for a new product launch, and when we returned to the agency we all thought of the same thing. A visionary leader. Turhan Talu is now responsible from tens of countries of Philip Morris International. He manages a part of the world from Vienna. He produces a vision, he leads. How does Turhan Talu evaluate leadership...

"Leadership is one of the most thought of and discussed subject in corporate world. Leadership has a much different definition than the Manager concept, which marked the years 1970-1990. Especially in USA in the last 10 years this subject is very popular. The top managers of big companies, leaders have given MBA programs on leadership. GE's legendary CEO Jack Welch is one of them. Today many big, international companies try to make the definition of leadership and try to develop Human Resource and Organizational Development Techniques to find out the leaders within the company and develop them to the future challenges."

Turhan Talu sees this process as a transition phase from management to leadership and adds "Of course, the need for Managers will not finish, because in a company there will not be too many leaders. Because leader is the one who puts forth the vision, he is the one who brings together everyone around a specific, hard to reach but reachable goal, who pushes all the company to act for this vision, who communicates the vision well, who gets general approval, who distributes both human and material sources for this goal. To manage is different than to lead. A manager works around short and middle goals and tries to achieve qualitative goals. The one, who produces practical solutions, has a pro-active attitude towards the market and problems, who is aimed at problem solving and operations is the Manager. A Manager manages the work plan, budgeting and reporting system and controlling mechanisms. A leader however should have vision, be willing to win and should have an instinctive liveliness and drive and motivational talent. The manager asks the question "WHAT". The leader asks the question "HOW" and places a vision in the minds and hearts. Researches have shown that an effective leader may not be a good leader. Because manager is focused to the result. He does all that requires to achieve this and may not give importance to the soft, interrelation skills that a leader should have. A Manager improves and utilizes his technical skills, because he is judged by these. During this he may not give importance to what we call "soft skills" as to how a job is done. Of course ideally in a corporation Managers at every level should focus not only to what is done but also to how it is done, and give some importance to the "How" question in his evaluations. I saw many Managers in my business life acting with the opinion "Let me achieve the result whatever it takes, whatever the organization thinks." The ideal is to share with the organization and create a new company culture. And this is the leaders job. Only then all the organization all together revolves around the result and realizes the vision.

Finally Talu adds his recommendation for Human Resources Managers and General Managers. "I do not believe that leadership is a by birth talent. Leadership can be learned. Of course if that person has this skill profile(not talent) to create a leader from this person will be easier and faster. Skill measurement should be found out during the interview or periodical in the organization, performance, evaluation systems should be accordingly and the company trainings should be entirely to serve this result. Human Resource who has a leadership profile should be evaluated at the early stages of the career path and they should be raised under this goal.


Leadership is perhaps partly from birth, perhaps it can be learned completely. When we look at the leaders among us we understand that the common point of them all is that they put forward big and different goals, they focus entirely on them, make the people around them focus to those goals, they motivate them and they release the result together. And the leader is the one who brings the new ideas, who develops them and guide the team that realizes the results.

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