Pursey’s perspective on leadership revolves around finding an identity and sticking to it.
Pursey Heugens is a professor of organisation theory, development, and change at the Department of Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). His research interests include comparative corporate governance, business ethics, and bureaucracy, institutional, and demographic theories of organisation.
Pursey also has a keen interest in comparative corporate governance, management of professional service firms, bureaucracy theory, institutional theory, business ethics, and issues management.
No stranger to studying companies, including family businesses and state-owned enterprises, one of his key areas of studies includes crafts people, and how they relate to their work, and the meaning and intrinsic motivation that they find. He’s also spent his time analysing entrepreneurs and necessity entrepreneurs.
He found that these are people who typically design their ventures, and experience a ‘give back’ in the form of self-leadership or self-piloting. They have had to innovate to create a source of income to put food on their tables. Through this, they find an identity that they use to express themselves in social settings.
Together with one of his PhD students, [add student’s name], they studied entrepreneurs in the Rohingya refugee camps. Those who have fled from Myanmar now find themselves in Bangladesh. People who are essentially on the fringe right and have been completely dislocated and uprooted. Their means to make money is through necessity entrepreneurship. His team found that once their bare necessities have been covered, they quickly turn to better their social identity.
This proves that even within the most dire of circumstances, people tend to enrich their social identity, by purchasing expensive clothes and giving expensive gifts. The identity of an individual is powerful, and it flows over to their leadership style.
When a person’s identity expresses more empathy and a sense of compassion, team members tend to support them more often. When a team appreciates their leader’s identity, they feel more willing to work towards the end goals of the team, and perhaps outperform others.
Identity is important in society, and many of us express it through copious amounts of materialistic items that are far too expensive. We use these items to make our societies believe that we are worth something. Sometimes it comes with a fun story, and sometimes it comes with gathering unnecessary items that will waste away.
Creating an identity is important in leadership. It can motivate a team, or break them down. Therefore, leaders must look at the societal identity that they have built for themselves and look at how they can leverage their identity to make their team stronger.
Listen to the discussion that Exponentially Me CEO Eksteen de Waal had with Pursey Heugens, and see how important societal identity is, and how even necessity entrepreneurs build societal identities for themselves.