As WEF starts in Davos, building resilience is more than ever on leaders agenda to accelerate transformation !

As WEF starts in Davos, building resilience is more than ever on leaders agenda to accelerate transformation !

Original publication in on December 2nd 2019

A. The purpose of a company is to engage all its stakeholders in shared and sustained value creation.

In creating such value, a company serves not only its shareholders, but all its stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, local communities and society at large. The best way to understand and harmonize the divergent interests of all stakeholders is through a shared commitment to policies and decisions that strengthen the long-term prosperity of a company.


  • i. A company serves its customers by providing a value proposition that best meets their needs. It accepts and supports fair competition and a level playing field. It has zero tolerance for corruption. It keeps the digital ecosystem in which it operates reliable and trustworthy. It makes customers fully aware of the functionality of its products and services, including adverse implications or negative externalities.
  • ii. A company treats its people with dignity and respect. It honours diversity and strives for continuous improvements in working conditions and employee well-being. In a world of rapid change, a company fosters continued employability through ongoing upskilling and reskilling.
  • iii. A company considers its suppliers as true partners in value creation. It provides a fair chance to new market entrants. It integrates respect for human rights into the entire supply chain.
  • iv. A company serves society at large through its activities, supports the communities in which it works, and pays its fair share of taxes. It ensures the safe, ethical and efficient use of data. It acts as a steward of the environmental and material universe for future generations. It consciously protects our biosphere and champions a circular, shared and regenerative economy. It continuously expands the frontiers of knowledge, innovation and technology to improve people’s well-being.
  • v. A company provides its shareholders with a return on investment that takes into account the incurred entrepreneurial risks and the need for continuous innovation and sustained investments. It responsibly manages near-term, medium-term and long-term value creation in pursuit of sustainable shareholder returns that do not sacrifice the future for the present.

B. A company is more than an economic unit generating wealth.


It fulfils human and societal aspirations as part of the broader social system. Performance must be measured not only on the return to shareholders, but also on how it achieves its environmental, social and good governance objectives. Executive remuneration should reflect stakeholder responsibility.


C. A company that has a multinational scope of activities,

not only serves all those stakeholders who are directly engaged, but acts itself as a stakeholder – together with governments and civil society – of our global future. Corporate global citizenship requires a company to harness its core competencies, its entrepreneurship, skills and relevant resources in collaborative efforts with other companies and stakeholders to improve the state of the world.


Written by 
Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum

The pause between action and response is where your freedom lies.  Are you making good use of it?

The pause between action and response is where your freedom lies. Are you making good use of it?

Original publication in on December 31st 2019

Victor E Frankl, author of Man’s Search For Meaning says, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. And in that space is our power to choose our response in our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

React vs respond

Reactions are instinctual. There’s no filtering process when you react in a situation — you’re running on auto-pilot. When you react, you do and say things on impulse, and don’t consider the implications of what you do or say.

Written by Thomas Oppong

Empathy : the magical ingredient for performing teams

Empathy : the magical ingredient for performing teams

Original publication in LinkedIn on septembre 11th 2019

Two European telecoms had partnered to develop a new product. Each had a team of engineers devoted to the product, but those team members each stayed in their own company headquarters, never seeing the other, even though they were working in the same city. The teams emailed each other—and soon the partnership broke down as the emails devolved into a flame war.

A consultant called in to help with the crisis had a simple solution: he got the two teams together for an offsite where they had beers together and got to know one another. The resulting empathy, he knew, would heal the split. The new product was delivered on time.

With the faster pace of change and disruption, markets and teams have become more diverse than ever. And alongside the digital whirlwind and the emergence of artificial intelligence, the human side of work, paradoxically, matters more than ever. Our relationships with colleagues, clients, and business partners will play a major role in the organizations that rise to the top and those that flounder. Empathy, our ability to understand and relate to others, will be key to success for organizations and their employees.

Empathy Bridges Cultural Differences

Take the increase in global business relations as companies go multi-national, markets become global, and the workplace itself morphs into an international reality. People who excel in empathy are most successful at leading cross-cultural teams and managing global customers. Understanding others’ points of view creates bridges across cultures. This is critical, for example, on teams who may never meet each other in person, yet need to communicate effectively.

On international assignments, empathic leaders get along well with people from very different backgrounds and cultures, and can express their ideas in ways the other person will understand. They also quickly pick up on unspoken cultural norms, enabling them to have smoother relationships.

Research shows that emotional intelligence (EI) is a crucial predictor of cultural adjustment, which means better outcomes on overseas assignments. Global managers with strong EI were able to adapt to new cultures and so received more positive feedback from their supervisors. In contrast, managers with low EI were more likely to struggle to adapt to a new culture and end their assignment early. By reducing the cultural gap, emotional intelligence enables managers to find commonality and build connections while on an international assignment, both in and outside of work. The result: success for their career and organization.

Build Loyalty in the Face of Change

Then there’s the relentless pace of mergers and acquisitions, during which the most effective leaders must recognize and deal with their employees’ unspoken feelings, such as fear, in order to successfully motivate and inspire them. Leaders who empathize with the emotions that uncertainty or change bring can find resonance even when delivering bad news.

Rosa Chun at the Manchester Business School found that a major factor in the low success rate of mergers results from a lack of understanding of the human side of such a disruption, and the emotions that roil within employees while companies are integrating. Too many organizations focus on the obligatory aspects of a merger—ensuring legal compliance, maintaining revenue, and keeping shareholders satisfied—while ignoring the human side of mergers and their emotional cost.

Particularly during a merger, clear communication can make the difference between satisfaction and dissatisfaction, loyalty and poor morale. In Chun’s study of a major pharmaceutical company that has grown through mergers and acquisitions, empathy was found to be the most desirable characteristics leaders could display during a merger. Organizational empathy, Chun found, yielded “employee loyalty, perceived job security, satisfaction, and emotional attachment” during and after a merger. By paying attention to the human side of mergers, leaders avoid letting the merger become an organizational crisis.

How to Strengthen Empathy

A first step in strengthening our own empathy might be simply taking some moments amid the distractions of life to care about the emotions and suffering of those around us, particularly those impacted by our decisions. Further steps might include: 

Active listening. Active listening is vital to relationships that work—letting us forge deeper connections throughout our lives. Showing genuine interest in what the other person is saying and feeling puts this into action, for example by asking follow-up and open-ended questions. Once you begin to strengthen your connection with someone, you can use what you learn to inform your future conversations.

Open up. You can complement active listening by opening up yourself. Sharing something deeply personal—such as a difficult experience or current struggle—lets us share our emotions and connect with others on a deeper level. If you’re a leader and find it difficult to disclose your emotions to your team, try talking with a colleague first.

Try well-wishing. Research has shown that people who spend time each day wishing well to themselves and others create a sense of ease, kindness, and greater well-being. In a well-wishing practice, we extend compassion to ourselves, our families and friends, our colleagues, and even people in our area we do not know. For a simple well-wishing practice, choose a routine activity such as walking your dog or driving to work to do a silent practice. Offer silent good wishes to the people nearby, to the people with whom you will be meeting with next, to those with whom you just met, or even to yourself.

Whether you’re preparing for an international assignment, leading a merger, or simply want to improve connections throughout your life, empathy is crucial for leadership success and personal well-being.

Written by Daniel Goleman 


4 ways to inspire an ownership mentality in your team

4 ways to inspire an ownership mentality in your team

Original publication on Inside HR on November 27th 2019

Many organisations are going through significant change and transformation, and Anthony Mitchell explains that it is important to hand the reigns to your employees in order to create a significant and impactful shift.


Change is the only constant for organisations operating in the cyber-physical age. As a leader, you play a vital role in managing the disruption that can result from this but it’s your employees who are fundamental to ensuring that change within your organisation is successful and sustainable.

How do you engage your people to think like owners, and run with the design and implementation of change and new ways of working? Fostering an ownership mentality is an essential first step, and will ensure your team feels invested enough to voluntarily contribute to and drive change in the organisation.

Here are four ways to inspire an ownership mentality:

1. A defined state of idealism. Allow your employees the time and space to dream about what is possible for the organisation, and identify the gap between their current and ideal future state. This clarity alone can be motivating for employee ownership – people are more likely to devote themselves to a change process if they can define, and are invested in, the outcome. Uncover these insights through multiple channels, such as silent brainstorms, online design hackathons and surveys or focus groups, to maximise input, harness cross-organisation and cross-role collaboration, and generate excitement. Once the future state has been decided, communicate this clearly to the whole of the organisation. Invite and encourage your people to lead you there.

“Know who to mobilise in taking ownership for different aspects of the changes you want to make, by understanding what motivates them”

2. Intrinsic motivation for change. Know who to mobilise in taking ownership for different aspects of the changes you want to make, by understanding what motivates them. For example, those who want to prioritise work-life balance but consistently work overtime are likely candidates for trialling solutions to address this issue. Similarly, an employee who values efficiency but notices that tasks take longer than necessary might be motivated to evaluate and reinvent related processes. Understand your team’s interests, motivators and values. Considered alongside your organisation’s purpose, help them build their case for meaningful change. A sense of purpose is a powerful motivator, so it is important that your people understand how any given shift can contribute to something bigger.

3. Invitation and permission. Within your organisation lies a mountain of potential for creativity and innovation. How often do you truly tap into that potential? Encourage your team at all levels to think outside of the box, to suggest changes and new ways of working. Communicating and encouraging this kind of proactivity is the first step. Create an environment that fosters new thinking, and hire new people that perpetuate this innovative and courageous culture. Does your culture also support ownership? For example, is there a culture of holding oneself and others accountable for actions and commitments, or do employees assume that leaders are ultimately accountable and therefore shy away from responsibility?

Give your team power to determine how an outcome will be fulfilled. Introduce a clear and simple process for ideas to be raised, evaluated and refined, and make sure you build in some time for this kind of thinking to take place. For example, Google is well known for its 20 per cent rule, where employees are encouraged and provided with the means to spend around 20 per cent of their time on side projects. This is how Gmail was created.

“The phrase ‘give as good as you get’ is a golden principle for leaders, particularly when you wish to see people owning change initiatives”

4. Reciprocity. The phrase “give as good as you get” is a golden principle for leaders, particularly when you wish to see people owning change initiatives. Leaders and organisations who go above and beyond for their people are more likely to see this reciprocated in the efforts and commitment of their employees. Likewise, an organisation that is seen to value employee contribution is a beacon for employees to continue making those contributions. For an employee to take ownership over change, or an element of change, leaders need to provide autonomy, trust and resources to both enable and support involvement and drive. Some ways you can achieve this include:

  • Accounting for innovation and change in team KPIs. This will minimise the risk of individuals feeling they are sacrificing their job performance to pursue an initiative that might have real positive impact for your organisation.
  • Offer reward or recognition for employee contribution to change ideas or actions.
  • Take the time to listen (e.g. a monthly or quarterly forum with no restrictions on seniority or role).
  • Evaluate the resources (including time, human capital and technology) available to team members.

As a leader, change starts with you, but to really create an impactful shift, hand the reigns to your employees. It is your people who will ultimately see these changes through to success.

Written by  

The rise of complementary leadership

The rise of complementary leadership

By deploying and supporting diverse teams of leaders with complementary skillsets, HR leaders can ensure they meet their goal of preparing their organisations for the future, writes Aaron McEwan

Modern superhero films might seem an unlikely source of insights about future leaders. However, popular culture occasionally offers an uncannily accurate view into emerging social and business trends.

Technology is fundamentally changing how we work, with a startling 70 per cent of employees reporting they haven’t mastered the skills they need for their jobs. The reskilling challenge is not unique to one industry, geography or even level, yet it has been identified as an employee problem rather than an issue among leaders.

Leaders cite the top changes to their roles in the last three years as a greater number of job responsibilities, the expectation to have a greater number of skills and the expectation to have a greater depth of knowledge about specific areas.

Beyond the skills challenge, leaders are being asked to meet a range of new internal and external demands. They face increased scrutiny on their decision-making, must navigate economic and social volatility, radical transparency and a multitude of new forces making their jobs more complex today.

Leadership investment vs performance payoff
Unfortunately, by leaders’ own admission, they’re facing a crisis of confidence. Gartner research finds only 50 per cent of leaders agree they are well equipped to lead their organisations into the future.

HR executives agree. Fundamentally, leaders must transform to drive business into the future. To help make this transformation, HR has increased leadership development expenditures by 172 per cent in just two years from $797 per leader in 2017 to $2,169 in 2019.

Much of this investment is going into clarifying leadership competency profiles to optimise individual leader performance against a common standard. In fact, 41 per cent of surveyed HR executives are “adding new competencies to leadership models over the next 12-18 months”.

“HR has increased leadership development expenditures by 172 per cent in just two years from $797 per leader in 2017 to $2,169 in 2019”

The rise of complementary leadership
Despite this increased investment, there is little variation in team performance based on a leader’s competency profile. Gartner examined top-performing leaders and teams across all leadership competency profiles and found that most leaders have “spikey” profiles; they excel in a few competencies but also have some areas of relative weakness. The research also found that there is no ‘silver bullet’ set of competencies or gold standard leadership model that correlates with team performance.

Rather, leaders of top-performing teams share their leadership responsibilities with others. They engage in complementary leadership; the intentional partnership between one leader and one or many leader partners to share responsibilities based on complementary skillsets.

Leaders’ individual effectiveness accounts for approximately half of team performance. Complementary leadership accounts for the other half.

Future leadership lessons from Tony Stark
The original Iron Man, released in 2008, introduced us to the quintessential 21st-century superhero in the form of Tony Stark; a white, charismatic and visionary billionaire CEO with access to unlimited wealth and technology. He had some clear strengths but was also impulsive, arrogant and insecure. The original Iron Man movie poster showed Stark as a lone figure, encased in a futuristic iron suit ready to singlehandedly take on the evils of the world.

Ten years down the track, the most successful superhero film and one of the top-grossing movies of all time, follows an ethnically and gender diverse team of superheroes. Each character brings their own unique superpowers (and flaws) to create a team that works together to defeat a vastly superior enemy. The poster for Avengers: End Game, shows all the Avengers unmasked, vulnerable and paired together with their complementary partner.

“Strength-based approaches work and individual leaders do better when they share their skills and abilities with one another to compensate for individual gaps”

As popular culture is suggesting, the world’s challenges are simply too big for one leader to solve.

As HR professionals suspected, strength-based approaches work and individual leaders do better when they share their skills and abilities with one another to compensate for individual gaps. Complementary leadership represents a new tool for leaders to boost their team performance amid complexity and uncertainty and negates their need to do it all on their own. It’s a clear recognition that no well-rounded, perfect leader exists today.

Ensuring leaders are prepared to lead their teams into the future is a key component of HR strategy for most organisations today. However, HR leaders must ensure they’re directing their resources to the right components of leader development and support. Instead of relying on leadership models, HR leaders need to enable leaders to share their responsibilities with colleagues who have complementary skill sets. This not only increases leaders’ own effectiveness, but also effectively improves their teams’ performance.

Supporting leaders: 3 steps for HR
To help future leaders participate in complementary leadership, HR leaders should adjust the way they support leaders in three areas:

  1. Rather than measure leaders’ capabilities against standard metrics, enable them to understand their strengths and development areas in their own contexts.
  2. Instead of creating development programs that will transform leaders’ approach, identify ways to embed leaders’ real workflows into development, so they can make immediate and effective changes to the way they work.
  3. Rather than waiting for individual leaders to develop all necessary skills, help them find the right partners to share the responsibilities.

The world has changed and so too have our biggest threats. By deploying and supporting diverse teams of complementary leaders, HR leaders can ensure they meet their goal of preparing their organisations for the future.


The effect of clarity and intentionality on Leadership

The effect of clarity and intentionality on Leadership

Original publication in on November 8th 2019

What are the defining characteristics of successful leadership?

Mark Sanborn identifies them as clarity and intentionality in The Intention Imperative. Clarity, he says, “tells you where you’re headed” and intentionality is “the consistent action you’ll take to get there.”

To explain, Sanborn takes us back to when Domino’s found clarity and discovered how they were going to get there. With clarity of purpose that took them back to their roots, and intentionality, they became an e-commerce company that happens to sell pizza. As a result, Dominos stock has risen 5000 percent since 2008, outperforming all of the world’s largest tech companies.

Leading with clarity and intentionality makes the difference. He offers the following chart to illuminate the effect of clarity and intentionality on our leadership effectiveness.

Sanborn Intention Imperative

The quadrant of No Leadership is negligent leadership—no direction and no way to get there. Vague Leadership has a bias for action but lacks a clear idea of where they’re going. Wishful Leadership knows where they want to go but haven’t figured out the how or aren’t taking consistent action to get there. Intentional leadership is effective leadership. “Intentional leadership is knowing where you want to go and taking consistent action in the world as it is, not the world as it was, to get there.” There is a lot contained in that last statement and is the subject of this book.

Intentional Leadership consists of three imperatives: Inspiration, Culture, and Emotion.

The Culture Imperative

Culture gets a lot of attention and is considered critical to success, but few organizations actually do much about it. At best, it becomes an HR function.

Sanborn defines culture as “what we think and believe, which then determines what we do and what we accomplish.” He lists six reasons why it matters so much, but this reason caught my attention. I had never looked at it from this perspective. He says, “Culture is a corporate immune system that protects against variance, decline, or abandonment by identifying and combating threatening forces like toxic partners, disjointed processes, and bad decisions.”

Culture often takes a back seat—though we know better—because we focus on the wrong things or think it is all about making employees happy. “Making people happy isn’t the job of an intentional leader. The job of an intentional leader is giving employees the tools—the philosophy, the training, the communication, and the incentives—to be successful.” Sanborn offers five levers to create, change, and/or maintain culture—intentionally.

The Inspiration Imperative

Inspiration comes from purpose and the mission. It’s more than motivation or engagement which are “task-focused and lack the sustaining power of inspiration.”

Inspiring leadership begins with you. You find it in yourself first so that you can bring it out in others. Inspiration can be found in solitude, those you associate with, curiosity, a healthy sense of humor, gratefulness, service and exercise. “To find your purpose is to find your inspiration.” From this foundation you can guide others to their inspiration.

Sanborn offers ten tools for inspiration. Connection with your team, your example, empathy, linking purpose to work, providing challenges and education, appreciation, and a good story are among the ten.

The Emotion Imperative

We have entered the emotion economy. The customer wants to feel successful after the fact, not just happy. “Are you happier you did business with us than with someone else?”

You want customers happy they chose you—to feel successful. “The old notion that a company merely needs to provide a good or service withers away when we start to understand that it is not the product or service itself that matters—what matters is which emotion your company elicits from its customers.”

The intentional leader knows that this goes beyond customer service. That’s part of it. “A customer’s emotions start well before they enter your sales funnel. The new economy has expanded the points at which your potential customers will first interact with your company. Across all levels of your organization, ask yourself how each impacts the customer’s happiness and feelings of success. This includes marketing, product design, sales, and, yes, customer service.”

There are a lot of great insights in this book. Through a series of case studies that go beyond the usual suspects—a parking garage, High Point University, Acuity Insurance, Savannah Bananas baseball, Texas Roadhouse, and Envisioning Green landscaping—and interviews, he walks us through the thinking behind intentional leadership and its three imperatives to see how they connect. Here is a sampling of the comments from organizations featured in the book:

Nido Qubein, president of High Point University: “I just get in front of our team. I walk around and pat people on the back, shake hands, share a laugh. It’s not complicated. I make time for moments of joy each day, and the time I spend in the café talking to students and staff members makes me feel good. Students talk selfies with me. If a student is on their phone talking to Mom and Dad, I grab it and talk to their parents. I’m present.”

Ben Salzmann, CEO Acuity Insurance: “You can’t innovate in a vacuum. If you take the best genius and give them a year, feed ‘em the best food and lock ‘em in a room—a year later they don’t look so smart. Take the same person and let them talk and look around and interact, and they will come up with great innovations. Stimulus is critical.”

Kent Taylor, founder and CEO of Texas Roadhouse: “If we think about a new idea, I run it through twenty people—managing partners, market partners, kitchen managers, service managers, meat cutters. I don’t create ideas in a distant office. When it comes to employees, I am always asking, Are they happy? Do they enjoy their job? That’s important because I believe that happy employees create happy guests, which creates happy accountants!

Erika Johns, co-owner of Envisioning Green: “Our culture is fun and positive. We aren’t afraid to laugh and joke around, but we know how to work hard. You spend more time with your co-workers than your family a lot of the time, so it’s important to have some fun at work.”

All of the examples point to the fact that inspiration, culture, and emotion, are created and maintained with intentional leadership. Sanborn completes the book with thirty things that you can do now to lead intentionally based in reality—the world as it is.