Building Sustainable Legacies

What differentiates globally responsibly leaders from our existing leaders?

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One realization that stands out among the many important research findings of the past two decades in the field of leadership: the need for a shift in consciousness of the leader. We have come to understand that leader development first and foremost is personal development, a capability for reflective awareness which can be observed by the way a leader relates to himself, his environment and various aspects of the world.

  • Reflective Awareness is expressed through a universal perspective. This includes: an evolved level of consciousness and personal awareness; clarity, focus and commitment on a personal and organizational level; deep values and ethics; humility and humanity; empathy and resonance with others. This attitude forms the non-negotiable foundation of a leader. As a matter of fact, without this attitude, the development of the three dimensions falls within an old paradigm and will miss its intention and impact entirely.
  • Responsible Leadership is reflected by a visionary perspective. This includes: strategic skills, extraordinary communication skills, an excellent adaptability and attitude towards learning, a talent as a motivator, enabler and team players, an awareness of patience vs. impatience or doing and being, the capacity to span boundaries and bear tension, respect for diversity, adhesion to ethics and anthropological values.
  • Sustainable Entrepreneurship is reflected through a long-term perspective. This includes: the ability to lead organizational sustainability transformations, an advanced capacity for creative, critical, and divergent thinking, both street-smarts and an evolved intellect, the ability to question the status quo and to dismantle complexity, a facility to handle general management challenges and to solve problem integrally, implementation skills, and advanced mastery of all relevant subject knowledge to get any given job done.
  • Enlightened Statesmanship is demonstrated through a societal perspective. It includes: the ability to formulate an inspiring, higher-order vision, a sensitivity and awareness for societal concerns, a capacity to serve a cause larger than oneself, a drive to serve the Common Good, the ability to create and function within broad stakeholder networks, fluency with all aspects of sustainability, and a profound desire to be of service.

Figure 1: The four dimensions of globally responsible leaders

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Author: Katrin Muff PhD

Dr. Katrin Muff is a thought leader in the transformative space of sustainability and responsibility. From 2008 to 2018, she led the Thought Leadership activities in the area of conceptual design at Business School Lausanne, where she acted as Dean from 2008-2015 until self-organization made such a title redundant. Under her leadership, the school focused its vision on entrepreneurship, responsibility and sustainability in education and research. Her business experience includes 10 years at ALCOA (GM in Russia, Industry Analyst for Global M&A in the U.S. and Business Analyst Europe), 3 years as Director, Strategic Planning EMEA at IAMS Europe (Procter&Gamble), and 3 years as a co-founder of Yupango, a coaching consultancy dedicated to start-ups and training management teams.

One thought on “What differentiates globally responsibly leaders from our existing leaders?

  1. Politics is all about the art of the possible. You may have all the most wonderful ideas in the world but if you don’t get elected you cannot implement them. Sometimes we know that unpopular ideas are the right ones. For example, most environmentalists believe that raising the price of gasoline will have a beneficial effect by encouraging conservation and energy efficiency. But politicians in Switzerland have resisted implementing a meaningful carbon tax because they know that motorists – and businesses – would rebel. Taxing things that cause pollution seems to be a no-brainer but trying to convince the average person that this makes sense is easier said than done. That is perhaps why advocating for change is easier outside the realm of politics. Politicians spend too much time catering to their constituencies, corporate and otherwise . So enlightened statesmanship is naturally in short supply.