In the 'decade to deliver', it's time for responsible leadership

A girl with sparkle writes 2020 during New Year celebration , North Macedonia January 1, 2020. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski

A girl with a sparkler writes '2020' during New Year celebrations, North Macedonia. January 1, 2020. Image: REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski

John Dutton
Head, Uplink; Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum
Jill Rademacher
Head of Social Impact, Foundations, World Economic Forum
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This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
  • There is one decade left to achieve the sustainable development goals.
  • Leaders must embrace the principles of the stakeholder economy.
  • World Economic Forum/Accenture report identifies five elements to great leadership.

As we enter a new decade and 2030 appears on the horizon, the world as we know it is at a crucial juncture. Faced with unparalleled challenges including a climate emergency, economic dislocation, increasing social inequity and the unintended consequences of rapid-paced technological disruption, there has never been a more urgent moment for collaborative, progressive action from global leaders.

In this, the ‘decade to deliver,’ leaders from across all sectors will be increasingly held to account for the actions and choices they make. No longer is solely creating shareholder value the overarching C-suite priority. There is now a growing impetus to ensure positive value is created for all stakeholders across an organisation’s value chain and broader society.

Global business leaders must commit to and deliver on sustainable and equitable global growth. To achieve this, and to conquer the challenges ahead, collaborative innovation will be key. Never has there been a more pressing time to ensure the leaders of today and tomorrow possess the qualities, skills, and mindsets to unlock a future of hope, progression and promise.

SDGs for 2030
The goals for 2030 Image: UN

Unconventional, courageous leadership at every level across business and wider society is and will be essential when addressing the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the challenge of sustainable economic growth and prosperity, restoration of our planetary boundaries and fostering international cooperation.

When organisations cultivate leadership teams that champion a breadth of capabilities across intellectual and social skills, more societal and economic value is created. Leaders will need to make bold decisions founded on data insights, balance profit and purpose and lead from a place of humanity to ensure the transformative global action we urgently need.

As the first step in guiding and supporting a new leadership model, today Accenture and the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers and Young Global Leaders communities are launching a research study entitled Seeking New Leadership: Responsible Leadership for a Sustainable and Equitable World during the Annual Meeting at Davos, 2020.

five elements that are central to a new model for responsible leaders
The key elements to leadership Image: World Economic Forum

This study discusses a new leadership direction and makes recommendations to organisations who are determined to lead responsibly for 2020 and beyond. With input from more than 20,000 people around the world, we have identified five elements that are central to a new model for responsible leaders.

  • Stakeholder Inclusion. Safeguarding trust and positive impact for all by standing in the shoes of diverse stakeholders when making decisions and fostering an inclusive environment where diverse individuals have a voice and feel they belong.
  • Emotion & Intuition. Unlocking commitment and creativity by being truly human, showing compassion, humility, and openness.
  • Mission & Purpose. Advancing common goals by inspiring a shared vision of sustainable prosperity for the organization and its stakeholders.
  • Technology & Innovation. Creating new organizational and societal value by innovating responsibly with emerging technology.
  • Intellect & Insight. Finding ever-improved paths to success by embracing continuous learning and knowledge exchange.

The more than 1,800 Young Global Leaders and Global Shapers surveyed for the report placed the greatest emphasis on the Stakeholder Inclusion element. This reflects their conviction that social and environmental progress should be non-negotiable parts of any acceptable business model.

The launch of the ‘Seeking New Leadership’ study is part of a multi-year initiative between Accenture and our communities of young and emerging leaders to create a new framework for responsible leadership and to help organizations develop environments in which it can thrive. Our goal is to facilitate dialogue and partnerships that lay the groundwork for a new norm - leadership teams that are purpose-built to deliver sustainable growth.


What is the World Economic Forum doing about the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

The next phase of this collaboration will build upon the study to design learning modules that equip next generation leaders to live up to these ideals as well as unearth world-class examples of responsible leadership.

We invite corporations, governments and non-profits to join us in this responsible leadership effort to ensure this is the decade in which the world delivers positive outcomes for all.

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LeadershipForum InstitutionalStakeholder Capitalism
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