One of my first observations about the Davos program this year is the double-barreled titles of its themes: Growth and Stability, Crisis and Cooperation, Society and Security, Innovation and Industry.

Apart from the alliterative touch, I read this as enlightened acknowledgment of the fact that many of the leadership dilemmas today are in fact, false binaries.

It’s not EITHER – it’s BOTH.

It’s not OR – it’s AND.

ANDs require re-framing problems, balancing tensions, managing stakeholders, suspending judgment, digging deeper, reaching higher for solutions.

Leadership amongst diffused stakeholders – each with their respective constituents – is a complex coordination challenge. When world leaders operate without collective will and goodwill, they become inmates in a classic prisoner’s dilemma.

The new context requires a new litmus-test for leadership. Especially here in Davos where interaction and exchange is curated and catalyzed, the introspective question for any positional leader must be this:

How many ORs can I help convert to ANDs? How has my individual leadership contributed to collective leadership?

Here’s a random list of ‘duals’ that are often represented as trade-offs? How many more can you think of?

  • It’s growth and equality
  • It’s capitalism and social responsibility
  • It’s West and East
  • It’s ‘talentism’ and compassion
  • It’s monetary easing and structural reform
  • It’s government and businesses
  • It’s technology and sustainability
  • It’s shareware and proprietary
  • It’s representative government and delivery of outcomes
  • It’s unity and diversity
  • It’s integration and detachment
  • It’s bank safety and SME financing
  • It’s discipline and nimbleness
  • It’s control and innovation
  • It’s freedom of speech and respect for faith ….

Any more??

This article is published in collaboration with LinkedIn. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Author: Lutfey Siddiqi is a Member of Global Agenda Council & ‘New Champions’ Community, WEF

Image: A boy touches a 45-metre (148-feet) long wall lighted by colour rays at an exhibition hall in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei province May 1, 2007. Picture taken May 1, 2007. REUTERS.