Leadership for the Greater Good:
Global Thought Leaders Explore Today's Challenges
ILA’s blog launched in March 2020 amid a world struggling to make sense of the pandemic, racial inequality, and challenges to democracy. We charge our bloggers to apply their leadership knowledge and practical wisdom to inform and inspire us as we continued our work of advancing leadership knowledge and practice for a better world. Bloggers include authors from 12 countries spanning 5 continents.
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While we have taken pride in what we could accomplish in our interconnected world, COVID-19 reveals how our interdependence exposes us to greater risk, making us more vulnerable. It shows how our strength can also be a source of weakness. Is it possible to find strength and possibilities in our shared vulnerability?
The coronavirus has led to a recalibration of the human spirit and a rise in humanity’s leadership. It’s the kind of “connected leadership” the youth of this country, and the world, have been calling for. We must ask ourselves: Why haven’t we been doing this all along? And, how we will make it last?
At this time of social distancing, Bobby Austin calls for us to embrace “Public Kinship” to help tend to the fracturing and crumbling of our social infrastructure. Public Kinship is based on personal self-leadership – what we do for ourselves, for each other, and for the common good.
Authoritarian-style leadership practices have become more common, to the point that they are often dismissed as “that’s just the way it is.” COVID-19 reveals our need for leaders who speak with authenticity and accuracy and puts in stark relief the shortcomings of authoritarian leaders – and the choices ahead of us.
Katherine Tyler Scott, former board chair of the ILA, speaks to the importance of character in leadership, and the damage that occurs when it is lacking. “Questioning and pondering the meaning and relevance of character in leadership is not only an academic exercise, it is a moral imperative, and as we can see daily, it is a matter of life and death.”
These times require a collaborative global approach, based on mutuality and trust. Yet trust is in short supply. This is due, in part, to the rise of authoritarian leaders – malignant narcissists – who pursue their self-interests without any moral restrictions. These leaders are dangerous, not just for their countries, but for the entire world.
Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, is the epitome of compassionate and effective leadership, as evident by her exceptional handling of crises. Ardern’s leadership stands as a new paradigm in direct contrast to the worrying rise in authoritarian leadership styles that so many male leaders exemplify today.
Aldo Boitano writes that the coronavirus pandemic has revealed how deeply connected we are and how our actions directly affect others. In making future decisions, he urges us to understand that not only is a shared future better than a lonely one; there is no future if it is not shared.
Kathleen E. Allen looks at how a whole systems approach to leadership enables both/and thinking, a more effective use of data, and rewards cooperation across the system. “When leaders use these three lenses, not only are the outcomes better for their country, they are better for the whole system long term.”
Mike Hardy, chair of the ILA, writes that COVID-19 has taught us that epidemics will happen but we won’t know when. What does that mean for leadership? Hardy argues that we need to focus on preparing, not planning. “We cannot expect there to be clear maps showing stress-free routes to our future. We need to remain agile, take risks, and commit to learning.”
Keith Grint draws on Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People to reflect on the challenge and necessity of leaders to “tell us the truth, even if it is unbearable, and to tell us our responsibilities, even if we would prefer to shirk them. This is the Leadership role.”
ILA’s Leadership for the Greater Good blog is supported via a grant from the MetLife Foundation.