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Millennials’ Thoughts on Modern Leadership

The Brussels office of executive search firm Odgers Berndtson has, for the fifth year in a row, organized its CEO for a Day event during the past weeks.

This is the proven formula: five top students, carefully selected from Master-2 applicants of Solvay Brussels School, accompany 5 business leaders for one normal working day. This year, Thierry Geerts of Google Belgium, Charles-Henri de Malleissye of Fnac Vanden Borre, Paul Dujardin of Bozar, Axel Smits of PwC and Bernard Delvaux of Sonaca have enthusiastically participated.

The five “CEOs for one day” made the following leadership observations after their special days with these leaders:

  • A good leader has the right combination between human, conceptual and technical skills;
  • Be passionate about your job, believe in the culture of the company and share it every day with all stakeholders;
  • It is about having passion, having a vision and empowering people;
  • Leadership is about flexibility - while juggling between different leadership styles according to the audience, transparency is always a key point;
  • A modern leader doesn’t impose any form of hierarchy, but includes the people and leads by example. While seeing the big picture, s/he at the same time extracts the key points and separates consequence from cause. A balance between “no-nonsense” and emotional intelligence makes colleagues want to follow him/her.

One CEO shared this reaction on the day with the student:

For me this was a great experience, especially as you selected a true high potential. The student was relaxed, engaging and well-balanced. He has developed a broad skill set, allowing him to participate in a wide variety of discussions in an active manner. He came across as honest and sincere, and he embodies what to me a true millennial should be: eager to learn, have impact, be able and willing to adapt to an ever faster changing world, be open to listen and follow when inspired.