Whether leading a startup or managing an established enterprise, Sir John Tusa, British arts administrator, author, journalist and former presenter of BBC's Newsnight shares effective leadership lessons that play a pivotal role in achieving long-term success, in a recent episode of Dinis Guarda YouTube podcast.

Leadership goes beyond authority. It involves listening, adapting to change, and making decisions that consider the well-being of the entire organisation.

Sir John Tusa, the co-chairman of the European Union Youth Orchestra, the recipient of honorary doctorate from Heriot-Watt University and the knighthood from the Queen, Sir John Tusa speaks about leadership in a recent interview with Dinis Guarda.

Leadership has to be made and shown when it is necessary. Leadership doesn’t mean to be better or superior to the people who run the organisation. It is a perfect amalgamation of risk taking abilities, innovation, creativity, and financial discipline”, he says.

Finding success with a visionary leadership

Visionary leaders possess a clear, compelling vision that transcends short-term goals, guiding their organisations towards a future they actively shape. They cultivate an environment that encourages creativity and risk-taking, fostering a culture of continuous improvement. By effectively communicating their vision, these leaders align their teams and stakeholders, creating a shared sense of purpose and commitment.

Condensing his experiences and supplementing them with some of the global narratives, John authored “Bright Sparks: How Creativity and Innovation Can Ignite Business Success''. The book explores situations where pioneering leaders in various sectors have overcome challenges to deliver inspired, imaginative and bold initiatives that make a huge impact upon business and society.

Only the people who have an idea and thought of making it work out, are the ones in this book. They did not just fade out, but continued to set things alight”, John told Dinis.

He also explained using examples from the book that success under visionary leadership is not merely about achieving financial milestones but encompasses building resilient, adaptable organisations that thrive in the face of change. It requires leaders to stay ahead of industry shifts, adapt strategies dynamically, and foster a culture of collaboration and learning.

How adaptability and innovation play a role in the success of a business?

Be prepared for changes. As far as a board is concerned, it should be aware if they are not receiving from executives sufficient ideas for project development. The idea of innovation has to be on the agenda”, says John.

The capacity to adapt to evolving market conditions, consumer preferences, and technological advancements allows businesses to stay relevant and resilient. Successful enterprises recognize that change is constant, and by fostering a culture of adaptability, they embrace challenges as opportunities for growth.

Citing an example of BBC’s Newslight, he says that the show was founded 43 years ago, it was an absolute innovation for reporting the word on the TV. Its capability to evolve, encouraged a culture that values creativity, continuous improvement, and the ability to pivot in response to market trends and emerging opportunities.

A leader builds and nurtures a high-performing team

Success in business is a collective effort, and leaders must prioritize building and nurturing high-performing teams. Recruiting individuals with diverse skills and perspectives, fostering a culture of collaboration, and investing in professional development contribute to a motivated and capable workforce. Recognising and appreciating team members for their contributions further enhances morale and productivity.

Leadership has to be made and shown when it is necessary. Leadership doesn’t mean to be better or superior to the people who run the organisation”, John says.

He also explains thata leader cultivates an environment of collaboration, trust, and mutual respect, beyond overseeing individual tasks in order to foster a collective sense of purpose.

The strategic decision-making ability of a leader

Leaders are often confronted with complex decisions that can significantly impact the trajectory of their businesses. Strategic decision-making involves assessing risks, gathering relevant information, and considering the long-term implications of choices. Successful leaders are decisive, yet they also recognise the value of seeking input from experts and stakeholders before making critical decisions.

When it comes to decision-making, personal or institutional, follow what your head thinks, your heart feels, and your stomach knows. In my experience, my body always tells me the truth. You can be fooled by your head, beguiled by your heart, but your body will always tell you the right decision. I have found this accurate through several crises now”, says John.