Leaders lab

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Leaders Lab

The Leaders Institute was built on years of research and today provides innovative work as well as publications available to Fellows and the Leaders Circle.

These include books, White Papers, Board Briefings and Articles. However, knowledge has to become action and so we have built a site that is the Institute’s Call to Action based on the transition of our world in this decade.

Articles

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How will disruption affect strategy at  board level

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Why the personality of the CEO matters

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High performing Top Teams

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The Readiness for Change

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The Changing Role of the CEO

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Why the best executives have a mentor

White papers

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Inclusive Organisations

Board briefings

Call to Action for Boards

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Decade of Transition

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Transition to Net Zero

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The Workplace Transition

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The Economic Transition

Why Leaders Must Act Now

“Disruption has two sides: the things we need to let go of: and the things that are about to emerge.”

Otto Scharmer MIT

Today we are living in probably the most important decade since the first human beings walked across Africa. Not only is the world fighting a global pandemic but we also have this decade to transform our world if we are going to rebuild a sustainable future and not destroy our planet and all life. The phrase Build Back Better has become so familiar we are in danger of losing its meaning. But surely this is a challenge for politicians not you and I? The reality is that the transition we are already embarking on will not only impact everyone but we are all responsible to play our part in its making. Whether its transforming from a carbon economy to a net zero green economy, upskilling a huge part of the workforce for a digital world, transforming education to be fit for the twenty first century, transforming to a hybrid workforce or ensuring we live in a society that is inclusive, fair and healthy, we all have a part to play. There is no doubt, we are going to experience the greatest transitions that any generation has had to face, and this is going to make us question everything including what it means to be human. The future will be shaped by each of us with a road map that is full of uncertainty and ambiguity. But as physicist Richard Feynman wrote in The Value of Science: “…doubt and uncertainty is not to be feared, but welcomed, and discussed.”

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Today, the world needs new thinking, wider perspectives and tools to not only overcome the challenges but put us on a better path and future. There is a wise saying, ‘There is no path; you lay down the path in walking.’ I invite you to walk with me on this journey to try and understand better the challenges we face as human beings who live on a planet that is home to a huge array of colourful creatures, plants, resources, oceans and forests, called Earth. The future cannot be extrapolated from the past, we have to shape it ourselves. However, if we are going to achieve this, there will be a need for collective leadership from all parts of society; all ages; every CEO, profession and government. The requirement for leadership has never been greater.

Towards the end of the twentieth Century, James MacGregor Burns, who won the Pulitzer- prize for his work on Leadership (1979) asked “Can we distinguish leaders from mere power holders?” I believe we can if we focus on the actions and behaviours of individuals under difficult circumstances, for this is where leaders emerge. Of course, leadership is more complex, but the power of action in a crisis is a visible sign of leaders and often what we look for when we judge a leader whether explorer Ernest Shackleton, astronaut Jim Lovell on Apollo 13 or Winston Churchill during WW2. This is a challenge today because we live at a time when in 2021, trust is at an all -time low according to the latest Edelman Trust Barometer. If we don’t trust our leaders across society why should people listen to them?

Every crisis tests its leaders, and the world requires leaders of business, government, and communities to work together. We will only succeed through collaborative, collective leadership. We see the world as separate parts not one planet but rather broken up into different interest groups and political parties, religions, races and business sectors while to move forward we need to work together. We see society as separate, them and us. This fragmentation mindset has to change. Globalisation could have brought people together, but the focus has been on global economics only. Most of all we have broken ourselves away from nature with arrogance and an obsession to control.

A wise man wrote: “A human being is part of the whole, called by us, Universe…. He experiences himself, his thought, and feelings, as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical illusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” The man who wrote this was Albert Einstein.

There is still much to learn but there are people in the world, good people, clever people, who can contribute, and it is up to each of us to decide what actions are required. It took a global pandemic to wake people up and we are now more connected with one another as we have seen people with amazing stories of kindness, giving huge amounts of money to causes and people putting themselves at risk for others during this time. Till recently, the evolution on earth has been in the hands of nature; now it is in our hands.

Today, we have an opportunity to reshape a better world for all life on the planet. We can create a society that is wiser, more equitable where all life is cherished and can be more ecologically sustainable. There are huge business opportunities for innovative entrepreneurs. We can question what governments are for and challenge the ‘short termism’ in both politics and business with the focus on tick box fixes that don’t see consequences. We need to bring people together by closing the gap between rich and poor; stop violence and abuse against women and children; and focus on being better ourselves. We can have businesses that serve their employees and communities as well as shareholders. It won’t be easy but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t achieve it.
The Roman Seneca said: “It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.”

We need to find our courage and act. Each of the big challenges we face has to be addressed locally, nationally and globally. We need to understand all positions, perspectives, views without judgment and pre-conceived biases. The task is huge but not impossible. That is why the path to walk is not just mine or yours. It requires many.

Transformation doesn’t mean destroying or throwing away everything that already exists, but it does require re-thinking what we have in a new way. What is required is the knowledge and understanding of what to let go of and what is emerging; what is being achieved and what is being neglected. Our White Papers on the Leaders Lab hope to clarify the challenges with some ideas of what can be done for at the end of the day we have choices to make that will shape the future. We need to bring together and rebuild what has been fragmented and torn apart. Together human beings have the capability to build a much better world and the actions to do this must begin today, now.

Transition to a net zero- carbon economy The Great Challenge

In 2015 world leaders agreed in Paris to limit global temperature rise by the end of the century to well below 2 degrees and they agreed to make an effort to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees.  However, emissions have continued to increase resulting in an estimated reduction required of at least 6 degrees per annum between now and 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5-2 degrees. How are we going to achieve this?

Transforming our global economic system for a better world

There is no doubt that capitalism has made the world richer and healthier than previous generations yet the world also has over a billion living in extreme poverty. In addition, over the last forty years there has been a serious and growing disparity between the rich and the poor in western society. Is this ‘normal’ and should we just accept it?  Is it right when the 80 richest people in the world control as much wealth as the poorest half of the world which accounts to 3.5 billion people? How has this happened?  Can capitalism ever be more inclusive? These are questions I wanted to explore and try to find answers too in this document.

Transforming the Workplace: Are Leaders Ready?

The speed of technological change requires an urgent upskilling effort. Within the next decade 90% of all jobs will require digital skills and two thirds of the workforce will have already left education and be in the workplace. If a sector employs 3 million, then to survive 2 million will need to be upskilled or reskilled within the workplace. While most employers agree in principle that there needs to be urgent action, they also say they are not ready. Yet the speed and impact of technological change will challenge their businesses and society at large. What are the triggers to make employers move fast to catch up?

shaping the future

with world leaders