The Power of Leading with Pragmatism

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By Martin Bouza

February 13, 2024

In my 25 years of leadership across diverse roles and environments, in many companies and even continents, one constant has held true for all those leaders I’ve come to admire and trust: pragmatism.

Let’s begin by redefining what a leader is. It’s not just about a position in the hierarchy; it’s a way of being that catalyzes big changes in an organization. A leader isn’t necessarily a manager, although they can be. A manager relies on their organizational standing to guide a group of people toward predefined goals. In contrast, a leader propels the organization forward, often making decisions with uncertainty and owning the risks that come with the territory.

Now, the key to good leadership is pragmatism. This doesn’t mean haphazard decision-making. Instead, it’s about swift execution and decision-making, even when armed with incomplete information—taking the plunge, so to speak. Leaders set the tone for their teams, and hesitation in decision-making can adversely impact those being led.

This pragmatism, closely tied to execution and decision-making, involves striking a balance between what’s ideal and necessary, recognizing that the path to being extraordinary isn’t flawless but demands perpetual movement from our end. While pragmatism may not be something I can teach, reflecting on our actions and identifying room for improvement can serve as a practical training ground. Are we only seeing the trees or observing the forest too closely? The sweet spot lies in recognizing both.

From my experience, a successful leader is one who achieves the company’s objectives with the very best possible results, both objectively (actual goals) and subjectively (from our teams). While there is this new wave of employee experience centricity that I completely understand, since people are the heart of any organization, I believe it goes far beyond this: tangible outcomes, accomplishing goals, and instilling a sense of pride in the team.

In my personal journey as a leader, I try to embrace my humanity, acknowledging that I make mistakes. However, I also define myself as fair and coherent. I’ve learned that the best leaders often are also those who’ve failed the most. As the founder of Arionkoder, I’ve woven many lessons from my experiences into its core, especially in its design. What brings me the greatest satisfaction as a leader is witnessing the growth and success of those around me. 

A true leader is a perpetual learner, and success depends on how effectively they apply the lessons they’ve learned. I hope you can be the leader your organization needs, and help everyone build better futures for humanity together.