The ability to face up to the past is an essential quality in a leader, says Duncan Maru, Chief Strategy Officer of Possible. “When you’re trying to deliver innovations that address gross inequalities and injustices, you have to understand uncomfortable truths and difficult histories that may reflect poorly upon your own country or ancestry.”

This post is part of a major series from the Schwab Foundation looking at lessons from leading social entrepreneurs.

Acknowledging our own professional failures is also vital, says Maru. He recommends “a brutal acceptance of the realities of mistakes, and how to use those for productive learning and organisational change.”


Maru cofounded Possible during Medical School with the aim of delivering healthcare to the rural poor in Nepal. He says getting recruitment right was an early leadership challenge: “We frequently cut corners on hiring; not being patient enough to find the right people particularly in leadership positions, or not transitioning people out of the company when things were not working.”

Author: Duncan Maru, Chief Strategy Officer, Possible

Image: Leonardo Lacruz (L), the Venezuela director of multinational headhunter Korn/Ferry, talks to a man, during an interview at his office in Caracas August 3, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins