Dare to be vulnerable, and three other lessons in leadership

CEO

(Austin Distel, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Kelsey Goodman, Community Specialist for North America, Forum of Young Global Leaders, World Economic Forum


Different times call for different kinds of leaders. As the world grapples with huge shifts in the social and political landscape, 70 of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders (YGL) met at the Harvard Kennedy School for a two-week course on Global Leadership and Public Policy.

More than just expanding their policy focus, the YGLs were challenged to think deeply and critically about their own assumptions of leadership. They walked away with valuable lessons what it means to be a “human-centered leader”.

1. The power of vulnerability

“Fifteen years ago, very few leaders would have dared to be vulnerable, to show themselves warts and all,” said Arvind Satyam, Managing Director of the Global Public Sector at Cisco Systems.

“In business school, we would look at leaders like Jack Welch in corporate America – not the type of leaders that wear their heart on their sleeves, shed a tear, or dare to connect on a human level. Were leaders afraid that if they showed that side of themselves, that they would not stay in a rarefied air with their employees?”

To Satyam – who helps public sector organizations use AI and big data to combat the opioid epidemic , secure critical infrastructure in smart cities, and promote financial inclusion -embracing vulnerability is an asset.

“People want to work with you for what you believe in, not what you do. As a leader in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, you do not have to be perfect, but you have to be human. It’s okay to admit mistakes and say ‘Listen, I was wrong. I’m going to correct that.’ That behaviour starts with the leader, and it builds a strong, more resilient institution in the longer run.”

2. Expanding your network

Throughout his two weeks at Harvard, Satyam worked with a small, diverse group of other YGLs on personal and professional reflections. Many of his most valuable lessons on leadership came, not from lectures, but from honest, emotional exchanges with his peers.

“I opened up to people I never encounter in my professional circle – the executive director of an NGO, a political figure, a scientist, an officer of a sovereign wealth fund. I began thinking ‘I would not be able to have this meaningful of a conversation with an audience from my own circles.’”

Every aspiring leader needs a personal board of directors – a diverse set of people who validate you, but also challenge your assumptions, and think about your problems in a different way.

Developing a Personal Board of Directors
Image: Farrington Partners

Satyam said: “In order to think about problems in a bigger way, you need people who will step outside of your own frameworks. You need someone to say, ‘Are you even asking the right question?’”

3. Making space to spark creativity

Juan Jose Pocaterra, the Co-founder and CEO of Vikua – a platform that allows cities to automate and remotely operate urban assets – said the most valuable aspect of the course was the opportunity to open himself up to the creative process.

“Connecting everyday with other YGLs and learning from professors, gives you new perspectives on your own work. This overload of information sparks creativity. You get so much from different people, different angles. The monkey in the brain is working overtime.”

Finding time to step away from your day-to-day responsibilities can seem like a luxury, but it is crucial to continue to grow as a leader. “Taking time to be creative – you’re not allowed to do that in your everyday life.”

Pocaterra, who lives in Venezuela, shared the challenges of leading an organization during a time of economic and political crisis.

Having the space to embrace creativity, paradoxically, led him to something quite methodical. “In Venezuela, you cannot plan more than one day ahead – tomorrow could be completely different from today. That’s a fact. I had learned to be an intuitive decision-maker.

“My time here reframed my concept of decision-making. I can see how I can apply a procedural decision-making process, even in environments when you are overwhelmed with the unknowns.”

4. The importance of values-centric leadership

James Chau, a television news anchor and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, reflected on the importance of values-centric leadership. “Leadership is expressed in many ways and at many levels. But the Harvard module reminded me that leadership is absent if it does not possess a values system at its core, that acts as our moral compass. As leaders, we are not serving ‘offices’, but ‘people’ and ‘communities’ and the needs they represent.”

Chau’s work as the host of “The China Current with James Chau” is principally focused on the US-China relationship. He came away with the “critical reminder that it is sometimes more important to listen than it is to speak, and that flexibility in viewpoints presents a critical opportunity to build consensus and coalitions”.

For leaders in the era of Globalization 4.0, Chau sees a sense of responsibility. “Humanity will find a way to adjust to the new social and political conditions we face, and thus we live in a time of great opportunity to shape a global future, that is strong, safe and fair. Much is required of us, but it is possible for us to meet this challenge.”

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

UN chief welcomes resolution to 27-year-old disagreement over renaming the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

The US pipeline attack shows the energy sector must act now on cybersecurity. Here are 6 ways how

How trade-based money laundering works and its impact on world finances

Why is the World Health Organisation so much needed?

Remarks by Commissioner Lenarčič on the deployment of EU Medical Teams to Italy

The link between migration and technology is not what you think

UN space-based tool opens new horizons to track land-use on Earth’s surface

‘The clock is ticking’ on meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, says UN deputy chief

UN agencies call for more resettlement and end to detention of asylum seekers in Libya

NextGenerationEU: Commission gets ready to raise up to €800 billion to fund the recovery

Here are six bold ideas to accelerate sustainable energy innovation

Logo Mania: A call to action to our crisis of connection

Judges urge Security Council to serve interests of all UN Member States

Why financial services can kickstart Africa’s digital economy

Parliament approves seven-year EU budget 2021-2027

IMF: World cup and productivity

Connected Claims Europe on 18-19 September 2019, in association with The European Sting

A shocking new report reveals what we’ve done to the natural world

Bosnia and Herzegovina: EU allocates additional €3.5 million to support vulnerable refugees and migrants

Eurozone bank rescues ‘a la carte’ until 2015 then only bail-ins

EU’s tougher privacy rules: WhatsApp and Facebook set to be soon aligned with telcos

Nothing about us without us: how youth empowerment creates lasting change in the climate meltdown

It’s time for the circular economy to go global – and you can help

Dark spots on EU humanitarian aid spending

A reflection of health inequity in recent epidemics

Fuel crisis rapidly draining last ‘coping capacities’ of Palestinians in Gaza

MEPs hail minimum global corporate tax rate deal as historic

Closing VAT loopholes for sales through online platforms

COVID-19 Myths and Facts

A Sting Exclusive: EU Commission’s Vice President Šefčovič accentuates the importance of innovation to EU’s Energy Union

Brexit: €5 billion to help EU countries mitigate social and economic impact

Improvements to pension systems have made them better placed to deliver pensions

Easing ‘classroom crisis’ in Côte d’Ivoire, brick by (plastic) brick

State aid: Commission approves €1.1 billion Polish scheme to further support companies affected by coronavirus outbreak

ECB: The bastion of effective and equitable Europeanism keeps up quantitative easing

State aid: Commission approves German aid scheme to support airports affected by the coronavirus outbreak

Bertelsmann Stiftung @ European Business Summit 2014: Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TTIP) needs balanced approach

Green light for VAT overhaul to simplify system and cut fraud

What does strategy have to do with a platform approach?

This is the IMF’s latest take on the economy in 2020

EuroLat plenary in Panama: control of trade talks and fight against crime

Commission paralysed before the banking leviathan

Coronavirus: EU channels further support to Nepal and repatriates EU citizens

Vaccine hesitancy: a pregnancy related issue?

Impressions of China

Challenges in accessing Palliative Care from the perspective of Universal Health Coverage

4 innovative renewable energy projects powering Europe’s green future

South Korea once recycled 2% of its food waste. Now it recycles 95%

Is a deal over EU budget possible today?

EU agricultural production no more a self-sufficiency anchor

Partner countries get €3bn in loans to prop up economies affected by pandemic

Our food system is no longer fit for the 21st century. Here are three ways to fix it

IMF: The global economy keeps growing except Eurozone

The US banks drive the developing world to a catastrophe

Team Europe: Digital4Development Hub launched to help shape a fair digital future across the globe

UN chief pays tribute to Egypt’s role in avoiding ‘dramatic’ escalation in conflict across the Gaza-Israel border

3 ways to fight short-termism and relaunch Europe

More than speed: 5G could become the next big economic driver

Smart cities must pay more attention to the people who live in them

COVID-19 poses a dramatic threat to life in conflict zones

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s