Through Imagining the Future of Leadership, a symposium at the Harvard Business School and accompanying blog series organized by Profs. Snook, Nohria and Khurana, an eclectic group of thinkers gathered to investigate what is necessary today to develop the leaders we need for tomorrow.
This video (a The Crucial Skill for Tomorrow’s Leaders – Video – Harvard Business Review) provides a nice sample of the discussions that took place, featuring (in order of appearance):
Myself, Bill George (Harvard Business School and former CEO of Medtronic), Daisy Wademan Dowling (Leadership Development at Morgan Stanley), Andy Zelleke (Harvard Kennedy School), Batia Mishan Wiesenfeld (NYU), Evan Wittenberg (Global Leadership Development, Google, Inc.), Ellen Langer (Harvard), Scott Snook (HBS and retired Colonel, US Army Corps of Engineers).
My own contribution dealt with “The Soul of Leadership“, the notion that leadership builds on trust, and trust builds on values.
Research by my colleagues Mary Sully de Luque and Nathan Washburn shows that CEOs who frame decisions in pure economic terms tend to be perceived as more autocratic and less visionary than leaders who express concern for a broader set of stakeholders through, for example, a commitment to public good. And the more visionary a leader is perceived to be, the more willing employees are to go the extra mile and consequently deliver higher performance. [...]
Corporations may have “no body to kick and no soul to damn” as the old adage goes. But their leaders do. In fact, it is followers’ perceptions of a leader’s “soul” that can make or break the deal. One of the greatest challenges of any corporate leader is to convince everyone else that they will not compromise the interest of the corporation, if not society, for their own benefit.
My colleague Mansour Javidan, also in attendance, discussed how crucial Global Mindset will be in the future of leadership.
Leaders with a strong stock of Global Mindset know about cultures and political and economic systems in other countries and understand how their global industry works. They are passionate about diversity and are willing to push themselves. They are comfortable with being uncomfortable in uncomfortable environments. They are also better able to build trusting relationships with people who are different from them by showing respect and empathy and by being good listeners.