2016 is not a year we are likely to forget. The rise of populism, economic and political uncertainty triggered by two shock victories at the ballot box, and the steady march of technology that is turning the Fourth Industrial Revolution into a reality – the stage has been set for a fascinating 2017.
As we start a new year, this is a chance for us to reset and reframe; to cut through the fear and the noise, so we can take a long, hard look at what is actually in front of us and discover what future we can build out of it.
Maintaining trust against a tide of fake news
The rise of fake news has left us with a serious conundrum. It’s no longer just ideological biases or cherry-picked quotes that we have to worry about when we read the news. Now we have websites disguised as legitimate news publications hosting false stories, designed to make money through ads and, in many cases, smear a public figure in the process. Being lied to by a fake media publication is not a new idea, but its latest manifestation is no less damaging to our ability to trust what we read and the platforms we use.
As with all things, responsibility lies with those with the power to make a difference. The social media platforms who host fake content have the power and the responsibility to take countermeasures to limit their influence. For those of us in media and advertising, we have a responsibility to maintain the trust of our clients, our partners and the wider public by taking our own steps to stop fake news websites from selling ads.
All of us need to continue to lead the way on transparency, accountability and industry standards, not only because we need them to prove our value, but because it’s the right thing to do. When trust is seriously undermined, open, honest and responsible leadership is the only antidote.
2016 has left us in heading straight into uncharted territory. 2017 is set to bring an unexpected and unpredictable US President and a rise in protectionism, populism and nativism. The world will become ever more interconnected, while the Fourth Industrial Revolution will continue to change the way we live and work.
No matter where we end up at the end of this year, as we take on these challenges we need to take our resilience with us. Fear shouldn’t be allowed to cloud our judgements, nor should complex issues be allowed to overwhelm us. Our strength, our determination and our outlook will decide who flourishes and who fades away in the new world that we are building.
Collaboration, empathy and connected leadership
At Davos, leaders from politics, business, non-profits and beyond will come together to share their insights about how to address the biggest global challenges facing us all. An interconnected world requires interconnected leadership, and events like Davos can certainly help bring people together.
But interconnected leadership is much more than this. It’s about being open to collaboration, even with people who you might see as your competitors. It’s about being empathetic, respecting and appreciating the fears (and the joys) of those who follow you. And it’s about connecting with people on a personal level, which sometimes means letting go of the bluster and bravado that is too often associated with “good leadership.”
Walking the talk on equality
The global gender pay gap is now the widest it’s been since 2008. The World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report has added another 53 years to its projection of when the gap will close – it’s now the horrifyingly distant year of 2186.
We shouldn’t have to wait this long to achieve one of the basic tenets of gender equality. And we don’t have to.
As leaders, it is our responsibility to ‘walk the talk’ on equality. We need to start turning words into actions and ideas into reality across all areas of public life.
Women in senior roles will have an important role to play in giving other women a leg up the career ladder. Being visible, getting involved in mentoring and exemplifying the characteristics that make for a good leader will be vital in helping us create a level playing field.