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Globally Responsible Leadership: good things happen in threes, too
By Frik Landman, CEO of USB Executive Development (USB-ED)
So, where were we? Last time we left the story at the point where the leader was busy with the [Koestenbaum] quest for greatness, supported by four companions, the Prophet, the Merchant, the Warrior and the Healer. I now want to shift my focus to the landscape in which this quest unfolds. Leaders act. They act in a specific context, which, to me, in design looks like an equilateral triangular, i.e. with three equidistant vertices: civil society, the public sector and the business sector. The challenging question is, however: What guides these leaders in their actions, and what do they have to understand of their context and landscape to ask the right questions to their four companions? I want to take a step back.
These three interlocking landscapes need to maintain their equidistance from each other. The reason I suggest this is mainly to ensure a constant level of trust among these landscapes (a trust triangle). This equilateral triangular trust relationship comes into existence and is maintained by another triangular relationship, i.e. the resonating and compatible ethos of each, the directional alignment of their aims, and the agreed governance. If for instance the distance between public sector and business collapses we may find that the critical fracking issue in the Karoo may reduce to pacifying civil society with superficial consultations, implemented by the other two, and civil society has to live with the consequences of that; or if the distance between public sector and civil society collapses [because this may favour a particular political party’s cause], we may find for example that social grants keep increasing uncontrollably and unsustainably with the business sector having to fund social plight.
What do I make of it? I can imagine little trust in these scenarios: all of this would happen as a result of decisions made by leaders in the various sectors on the different levels. We only need to revisit the Dinokeng scenarios to realise some of this. So it is not about whether there ought to be social grants or whether we ought to frack (to name but these two); rather it is about the nature of the ethos informing these leadership decisions, it is about the level of responsibly aligned aims that these leaders want to achieve, it is about the level of governance these leaders exert over themselves and their followers in deciding to act responsibly.
I would like to see the ethos of the leaders of all three landscapes being shaped by another triangle: a dedication to being
, a total commitment to being
in all they do, and an embracement of looking after tomorrow. I would like to see leaders spending much of their training and development time with each other, in the same groups, so that they can understand each other’s worlds and mindfully shape and align their leadership behaviour to the benefit of all. Remember Immanuel Kant’s Moral Law:
we (all our leaders) live in a kingdom of ends, where we (they) are simultaneously sovereign and subject.
If only we would understand that, in the final analysis, everything is connected to everything. Eventually the consequences (good or bad) of our actions will shape our tomorrow, and if not ours, then that of our children.
The globally responsible leader, in the quest for greatness, ought to ask the four companions how to balance another triangle: ambition, capability and conscience. These qualities should also form an equilateral triangle, with equidistant vertices, and if maintained and respected often enough (we are fallible beings incapable of absolute constancy) we will decide and act not only to the benefit of self (individual, company, sector, country, continent), but also to the benefit of the whole. Globally responsible leadership, that is.
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