Leadership Visions – A talk with three Alumni of Scuola Mattei about possible interpretations and implementations of the idea of leadership

Autor: iaasm 14-04-2024

Event held on March 2nd, 2016 at Eni Corporate University – Scuola Mattei, San Donato Milanese. See details

Report by Claudia Porretta Serapiglia, SPE Director External Relations, Universities

The event, organized in liaison between SPE and IAASM (International Alumni Association of Scuola Mattei) , gave to all the attendees the great opportunity of gaining access to the “Leadership Visions” of three experienced managers of the Oil&Gas Business and former students of Scuola Mattei:

  • Alberto Chiarini, CFO Saipem
  • Alessandro PULITI, eni Executive VP Reservoir & Development Projects
  • Stefano VENIER, CEO Hera Group

The event, warmly introduced by Enzo Di Giulio (ECU, Scuola Mattei) and moderated by Marco Coccagna (ECU CEO, eni corporate University), registered 85 in loco attendees and the incredibly high number of 180 views via webinar!

In few minutes it has been clear to the audience that the three guests were available to share their experiences to the professionals and students in the room. We observed in practice what that they also confirmed in words: co-operation among leaders can be extremely fruitful when common vision and self-confidence can generate quick and easy agreements on shared topics.

What is Leadership? How Leaders behave in nowadays’ complex organizations?

In very clear and powerful words, Stefano Venier clarified how, in his vision, leadership means “do the right things in the right way”: managers are required to practice every day in order to fulfill such a target in an environment characterized by overwhelming complexity. Leadership is more and more often exercised in an international environment, on free markets and in contexts characterized by quick and global communication schemes.

Nevertheless, the Top Management’s way of thinking can be educated setting Excellence, meant as an absolute concept, as key point. No room for relativism in Venier’s idea of excellence: the suggestion is to behave to be the best with reference to a very well defined and measurable target.

Alberto Chiarini guided the audience in the next steps ahead into the idea of leadership. Saipem’s CFO included in his speech the relevant concepts of Ethic and Responsibility as constitutive elements of a leader: cultural differences can be observed among leaders in different countries but high ethics is, without doubt, a universal “credo” for real leaders.

But what makes an effective leader in Chiarini’s idea? Certainly: strong commitment, passion and emotions. A leader needs to transmit and transfer emotions to truly motivate his team, to make the organization able to give more and more and to reach the target.

In good agreement with Chiarini, Alessandro Puliti stated that leadership is “the ability of extracting extraordinary results from a team of ordinary people”. How?!? The bad news is that there is no check list to share! In each project and in every context, the ability of a leader is to find the right solution by catalyzing all team capabilities, ideas and motivation.

As mediator, Dott. Coccagna introduced a new and inspiring consideration by quoting an amended version of famous Johann Wolfgang von Goethe saying “A leader is someone able to transmit roots and wings!

The metaphor has been considered an applicable concept by all speaker to describe leadership: specifically Alessandro Puliti recognized that roots can be associated to the technical knowledge that every leader has to have in some particular matter.  And what about wings? Treasuring the lessons from his long work and life in Egypt, Mr. Puliti described wings by remembering the figure of Horus, raone of the most significant gods in ancient Egyptian religion.

Like Horus, that flies and observes everything from a wider perspective, a leader has to understand the context and motivate his team to be aligned to the final target that, in any case, is the revenue for stakeholders.

“Roots and wings” can be described, in in Puliti’s words, as the balance between “trust and control”: if a leader trusts his team, then extraordinary efforts and results can be achieved; nevertheless, control cannot be eliminated at every level of the organization in order to assure ethics and responsibility.

Stefano Venier’s interpretation of the roots that a leader can provide to his team is more related to the sharing of “clear vision and mission”: only through example and consistency amongst words and actions, a leader can gain recognition. On the other side “control” is considered, by Dott. Venier, less relevant than “challenges”: listen, understand and then make “the right question at the right time”. Only in this way a manager can guide his team through the discussion and towards common targets.

The speakers have been so passionate in their speeches, that time, in the 2 hour-long meeting, just flew!

They provided more than one advice to the audience in the room and with no doubt most of them can be extended to both young and senior professionals. It is worth to summarize the main counsel:

  • always look for the hardest job ”: A. Chiarini strongly believes a challenging task is the best way to unlock the potential of a professional and transform him in a leader. Crisis can accelerate such a process, especially in matrix organization where everyone can express his opinion in order to hit the target. It could seem a paradox but the beneficial effect of changing leaders when at their peak has been demonstrated: both the organization and the individual will benefit of new jobs and new challenges!
  • be curious and never satisfied”: S. Venier believes that a leader can be recognized by his attitude to do his best every day!
  • interact with people vis-à-vis as much as possible” : don’t use exclusively technology to communicate; look for direct interaction with other professionals since direct discussions can generate real co-operation, in Venier’s opinion.
  • listen at all levels in your organization”: A. Puliti strongly recommended to use the process of feedback to give and receive feelings about key messages to be transmitted in the organization. And guess what? A real leader can be everyone while trying managing his boss! The ability of giving the right message in the upwards communication can give you much more chances to make the difference: take your own risk and manage the stress when far from your comfort zone.

As SPE, IASSM and Scuola Mattei, we have been pleased to host Stefano Venier, Alberto Chiarini and Alessandro Puliti. We are grateful for their kind availability and open-minded discussion. It has been for all of usa great opportunity to understand their vision and breath their invaluable enthusiasm.

Once more, it has been confirmed how collaboration amongst organizations can generate fruitful and enjoyable occasions and opportunities.