A good leader needs to be themselves, Jonathan Ruffer, chairman and founder of Ruffer LLP told the fourth eprivateclient Leadership Seminar.
He cited Winston Churchill as an example of this. A profile of the politician appeared in the Evening Standard early in the 1930s which said the writer would not want Mr Churchill to lead in a future war.
Mr Ruffer said this was to be expected as Mr Churchill had been a “disaster as Chancellor of the Exchequer, possibly one of the worse” and also had a poor record in the Government in the First World War, most notably over Gallipolli.
However, the Second World War in fact gave Mr Churchill an opportunity to be “completely himself” and this meant he would go do in history as a great wartime leader, Mr Ruffer said.
“In any field what those at the top have in common is they are playing out an extension of themselves,” he told delegates.
At the start of a career an individual’s personality may not be that important. They are often a member of a team carrying out specific tasks. However, as they move up the career ladder it becomes the “most important” factor, Mr Ruffer said.
Of course, in order to be yourself “you have to first know who you are,” he added.
It can be difficult for some individuals to find their place in the world and understand what drives them and Mr Ruffer used himself as an example of this.
During the early stages of his career Mr Ruffer had a number of roles in different professions. He did not find a profession that suited him until he tried investment management.
He said that it had seemed like he had accidentally found this as his chosen profession but in fact upon reflection he realised that it had always been so.
“As a child my father gave me a book that was a guide to investment,” he said. “I became fascinated by the charts that it contained. I now realise that it showed my personality was suited to the investment management world.”
He told attendees of the seminar, which was sponsored by Ruffer LLP and held at the London offices of Deloitte, that “if you can be yourself then you have a chance of getting to the top and doing it in an original and exciting way.”
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