Masterclass : Business Leadership for the 21st Century

16 02 2010

You can also get an audio version of this blogpost here: – Listen!

Copyright : World Economic Forum swiss-image.ch/Photo by Monika Flueckiger

Founded in 1971 the World Economic Forum is the influential think-tank that is “Committed To Improving the State of the World”. Every year it holds its annual meeting of Global leaders in Davos, Switzerland. The theme for this year’s meeting was “Improving the State of the World – Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild”.

One of the key plenary sessions covered the subject of “Business Leadership for the 21st Century” – where a panel of Chairmen and CEO’s from some of the worlds leading companies discussed how businesses and organisations need to change if they seek to follow the Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild message.

Central to their debate was Peter Druckers quote that “Management is about doing things right – but Leadership is about doing the right things”.

The panel consisted of Indra Nooyi – Chairperson and CEO of PepsiCo; Wang Jianzhou – Chairman and CEO of China Mobile; Stephen Green – Chairman HSBC Bank; Eric Schmidt – Chairman and CEO of Google; and Rosabeth Moss Kanter – Author and Professor in Business at Harvard Business School.

These opinion formers all agree that following the economic crisis of 2008/9, business leaders need to provide a new direction in 2010. After the huge breakdown in public trust in organisations, the financial system and capital markets, they understand that the nature of capitalism must change.

Indira Nooyi summed it up by saying that: –

  • We need to focus on Stakeholders not just Shareholders
  • We need to marry Performance with Purpose
  • We need to plan and act for the long-term not short-term

Wang Jianzhou identifed 3 key leadership challenges: –

  • Management should focus on real practice not theoretical models
  • Everyone should embrace technology to innovate
  • Companies need to be more socially responsible

Stephen Green made these key observations: –

  • The implications of the economic crisis will last for years
  • Out of crisis will come a better and less geared financial system
  • Companies will need to contribute to both economic and social development in future

Eric Schmidt’s view centred on:-

  • Where will growth come from – reshuffling money in the system? or creating something new?
  • Embracing new technologies is a way of empowerment

Rosabeth Moss Kanter commented on recent HBS research on Global businesses that are outperforming their peers, which clearly supports the emergence of 4 attributes for success: –

  1. Organisations need to understand how they serve society by defining and organising their resources around a “True Purpose”
  2. They need to be innovative in the way they serve society by creating new solutions to societal problems
  3. They need to develop an eco-system network of partnerships that extend their reach
  4. Strategies need to be people-centric and focused on the engagement of employees and customers who want to be involved in something that “makes a difference”

These observations show a startling degree of congruency from a wide range of Global Leaders from different sectors and regions. Their key messages resonate with the key elements of Authenticity discussed in my earlier blog postings on the big business issue.

Perhaps the time is right for you to follow the example’s being set by these wise folk? Will you change your leadership style in 2010? Will you set out a new route for success in the forthcoming decade? Why not consult me and my colleagues from Authenticis about how our methodologies can help you succeed in Rethinking, Redesigning, and Rebuilding your message?

You can see the full video of this panel from WEF 2010 here :-

Video : Business Leadership for the 21st Century

Posted by: James Rock – Managing Director, Cultivar Consulting

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