Davos Shuttle Talk

Goals, Not Skills, Make Leaders at Davos

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In Davos, there’s a fleet of World Economic Forum shuttles to whisk people between the Congress Center, hotels, parties, side events, and meetings, just to name a few destinations. This gives us a window into their day and also lets us strike up interesting conversations. On the Line 1, we meet Sangeeth Varghese, an Indian leadership thinker as well as a founding curator of the Global Shapers of the World Economic Forum.

Guards controlling one of the entrances to the Congress centre.

Flickr / Bark under Creative Commons

Waiting for the shuttle.

“I work in the strategic consulting industry in India. I also founded a nonprofit organization for student empowerment—it is called LeadCap Trust,” Varghese says. “During my studies, I have researched leadership, and you know what I found? Leaders are not born, leadership has nothing to do with one’s capabilities or skills.”

It is not just a vague statement, Varghese can assure you. “Look at Mahatma Gandhi, J.F. Kennedy—they were no better than any other average student. In fact, they had really bad health and could not do sports. It was their goal that made them leaders.”

According to Varghese, Gandhi became a leader pursuing his mission to end discrimination and lived up to his father’s expectations. “This is why our company mostly collaborates with tier 2 and tier 3 universities—students from there believe they are less capable than tier 1 representatives, and it is our goal to make them change their attitude.”

Until now, the two other WEF attendees in the shuttle have chosen to remain silent. But one of them finally interrupts and asks, “But how do you find your aim, how do you know where you want to get, if leadership is a process?” Varghese quickly answers, his eyes starting to sparkle: “You have to believe, this is it.”

Suddenly the shuttle turns into a lively discussion area. “What is the difference between the leadership and ambition in this case?” the third passenger finally asks.

“Ambition is an extreme key to leadership, that is correct. Ambition pushes you to do more and more, and this is how you distinguish between a leader and a follower. A leader is not afraid to take up responsibility, this is his drive,” Varghese proclaims passionately. “It is not necessarily the goal itself that is important.”

The driver of the shuttle has something to say as well: “Congress Center!” And the discussion ends just as suddenly as it began. But everyone has food for thought now.

Varghese and his fellow passengers.

Flickr / Bark under Creative Commons

Varghese and his fellow passengers.

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