In the view of many well educated persons who have demonstrated great leadership in the face of tough yet changing economic times, 21st century sustainable leadership is about courage, creativity, faith in people and based on fundamental values. Leadership based on values.
The opportunities and challenges in our present society are very complex, both on a global scale and right here in our Bahama land. Yet the opportunities and our future are deeply rooted in our culture and beliefs, that tomorrow's leaders will need to maintain focus on core qualities to achieve success:
• thinking to identify paradigms driving change
• mediation skills to facilitate knowledge sharing and broad input from our community stakeholders' so that they take ownership in the outcome
• a vision rooted in community service and ethical behaviour
• make sound decisions in an ever changing environment that is typically blurred with so many special interests
Leadership in the 21st century is about leading with the heart and to serve those under our influence rather than rule.
Roberto Jiménez, senior analyst strategy development, Group CO2, Shell
Business leaders will need to be motivated by personal values, rather than just financial performance, in order to address the development issues we face. They will need to show a commitment to their beliefs over time in order to draw continued efforts from others. Spreadsheets and data analysis have sized-up the problem, and will help develop credible pathways to reducing emissions, conserving resources and protecting human rights. However, to push the sustainable development agenda forward, business leaders will need to make issues deeply personal.
Yuri Itoh, manager, Environmental Strategy Office, Hitachi
People tend to seek leaders who have a strong character, clear picture for the future, and talk fluently. They are often praised by the results. However, I think now people also care about the processes used to achieve the outcome. Therefore, future leaders for the sustainability need to have qualities that were not required in the past. These are:
• enthusiasm to create a better world
• strong principles whilst being flexible and realistic
• sincerity and fairness
• collaborate and work together
• take risks and give the fruits to people
Mariano Spitale, sustainability manager, PricewaterhouseCoopers
I am optimistic about Rio+20, which will give new impetus to future leaders and will renew the agenda for sustainability for the coming decades. From my perspective, there are two key issues for a future leaders in the field of sustainable development.
One characteristic that will make a leader successful in the 21st century will be knowing how to identify and apply appropriate economic, moral and political incentives to actually incorporate sustainable development into our daily lives. I personally believe that this aspect has not been properly addressed in the past 20 years since the first summit was held in Rio.
Additionally, the world has changed substantially in the last five years. Its nerve centre is no longer just in the so-called developed countries - emerging countries have earned very significant weight globally as well. With this in mind, the next leaders must be vigilant to the challenges and opportunities for innovation that will come from companies and societies in these countries.
John Qiang Zhao, business sustainability manager, DuPont
I believe that future leaders need to lead their enterprises to define 'profit' in the context of what kind of impacts the company will have on the earth. They will understand that as a leader of a multinational company, they should better utilise their unique position to influence the behaviour of various stakeholders including governments, suppliers, customers and the general public in many countries. Working together with other far-sighted leaders, we will eventually find that mercy and leniency are imbedded into our company's profit. Also, we will set a model for many more companies to follow and thus make fundamental changes happen in the world.
Eugenia Ceballos, global procurement manager, Holcim Group Support Ltd
Bjorn Z.Ekelund classifies people into three types of colours:
• Blue: concrete and practical people who search for solutions that must be useful and serve a cause. They focus on facts and accurate details and deliver precision of end results
• Red: people who enjoy spending time with each other and get energy from being with others. They share feelings, show respect and are patient.
• Green: people who enjoy new and untraditional ideas. They like the idea of doing things different and enjoy looking deeply into issues. They have the characteristic to look at the overall picture form different angles and offer imaginative solutions. They are ambitious with high goals.
This is a good set of qualities for future leaders to build on in order to push sustainable development forward. The next level in the sustainable development journey requires a radical change in the way we do business and in the way we act as individuals and as a group. A challenging change of culture.
Future leaders shall promote and drive this common way of thinking and acting. This can only be achieved if they are able to create innovative strategies, ones that drive a change in culture by engaging people and creating a shared need.
We need leaders that are able to build awareness and mobilise commitment, leaders that are capable of consolidating gains to produce more changes, leaders with credible plans to get there and leaders with enough energy to communicate, communicate until it hurts. Future leaders should have a good palette of blue, red and green qualities enabling them re-shape culture through engaging and mobilising people.
Shannon Sung Hee Shin, manager at Green Management Center, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu
I believe that a sustainability leader of the 21st century has to have the ability to create a meaningful context out of the existing sustainability landscape. Sustainability is a broad notion that encompasses all aspects of our lives from economic to social and environmental actions. A number of ways to promote sustainability is infinite, and this vague plethora of contents is often the source of difficulty in raising awareness and participation in the movement toward sustainable future. It is therefore important for future leaders to recognise and provide innovative, sensitive, and meaningful sustainability possibilities.
Global leadership: the challenge of the 21st Century
Globalisation like all change processes succeeds or fails according to the quality of its leadership. A fundamental requirement is vision. Global leaders, Joyce Osland argues, need to have “inspiring visions that have to be carefully crafted to cross cultural and organizational boundaries without losing meaning.”1 Successful global leaders spend a great deal of time and effort in communicating the vision and working with teams around the world to make it clear,
a context involving multiple stakeholders, multiple sources of external authority and multiple cultures and under conditions of temporal, geographical and cultural complexity.
Temporal complexity arises from operating across different time zones, geographical complexity from physical distance, and cultural complexity from different ways of doing things, such as customs, rituals and behavioural norms – as starkly evident in
the recent Olympic
Games in Beijing. One particular form of intelligence plays a core role here: cultural intelligence. It is generally accepted that there are many forms of intelligence that are relevant to leadership, not just cognitive, but emotional, spiritual and moral too. 3
Cultural intelligence is defined as “a person’s capability for successful adaptation to new cultural settings; that is, for unfamiliar settings attributable to cultural context.”4 Cultural intelligence is distinct from emotional intelligence because it entails being able to switch national contexts and learn new patterns of social interaction and produce appropriate responses to these patterns. Ilan Alon and James Higgins suggest that cognitive intelligence, emotional intelligence and leadership behaviours are moderated by cultural intelligence in determining global leadership success. 5
The tendency currently is for an Anglo- American view to dominate in defining global leadership, though some social scientists in the arguably culturally more diverse European countries may be more equivocal, not to mention those studying it from Asian or Middle Eastern perspectives. Accordingly, another view is that global leadership is a globally common – or converging – understanding of leadership. The GLOBE studies endorse the latter view. For example, these studies suggest some universally endorsed leader attributes:
Professor Roger Gill meaningful locally. and operational
Who are these global leaders? They are not just chief executives or presidents and prime ministers but also those leaders, for example, who are involved in integrating companies in cross-cultural mergers and acquisitions, leading globally dispersed teams, or rolling out development programmes globally as well as military officers in charge of coalition forces.
Research at Roffey Park Institute with five prominent global organisations – IKEA, GlaxoSmithKline, Bodyshop, Lendlease and an anonymous financial services organisation – found that leaders operating globally, in addition to winning hearts and minds with their global visions, also need to be able to manoeuvre in politically and economically volatile and uncertain environments, create alignment with global strategies while working across diverse cultures, and lead and motivate teams across sometimes vast distances, often without a physical presence.2 Global leadership, the report says, requires willingness to learn constantly, innovativeness, cross-cultural awareness, “as well as the diplomacy and flexibility to navigate different views and the political astuteness and interpersonal skills to develop relationships with key stakeholders.”
But what is ‘global leadership’? It is not a clearly defined concept. One view is that it is a unique leadership style that applies to global activities when we work with people in
© Copyright The Leadership Trust 2008 Research Focus Global leadership: the challenge of the 21st Century 1