• Subscribe to Meet the Leader on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Soundcloud and Acast.
  • World Economic Forum has launched a bi-weekly podcast featuring the world’s top changemakers.
  • The podcast will tackle habits and traits effective leaders can’t work without.
  • Meet the Leader’s first episode will interview IBM’s Dario Gil and a way we could mobilize the world’s top scientists to prevent future calamaties.
  • Find other World Economic Forum podcasts here.

Great change doesn’t happen overnight. It’s fuelled by the right teams aligned behind the right priorities. And it’s driven by leaders who are able to harness their unique combination of vision and experience to find solutions and make things happen.

A new podcast from the World Economic Forum will bring more insight into the traits and perspectives of the leaders driving that progress. Hosted by World Economic Forum editor Linda Lacina, these bi-weekly interviews will dive into the habits and qualities leaders depend on the most - the ones that truly underpin great change.

In the first episode, the IBM’s Director of Research Dario Gil explains the need for a global collective of scientists and researchers - the Science Readiness Reserves - that can be tapped to prevent future calamities such as meteors or new pandemics.

The idea stemmed from work IBM led over the COVID-19 pandemic. This spring, IBM helped drive the creation of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing (HPC) Consortium, bringing some of the world's supercomputers to researchers looking to fight the virus. The group showed Gil how powerful the world's scientific talent could be if it can be mobilized and given the right tools during a crisis.

The idea for the Science Readiness Reserves takes into account the fact that most modern talent and expertise is distributed widely and difficult for any existing institution to easily coordinate. It also factors in the reality that many existing institutions aren't necessarily focused on mobilizing scientists for prevention or poised to give those experts access to the latest technology. "To mobilize our talents and resources," explained Gil, "it requires leadership and coordination."

He added: "We should not be satisfied that all the institutions that we need have been invented. As we confront new challenges, part of the creativity and the innovation that has to be present in society has to be the willingness to modify and improve existing ones and sometimes to create new ones."

Highlights of this episode

What every great collaboration needs: According to Gil, great collaborations require four things: a common purpose, a high-quality team, strong infrastructure and the right funding model.

That combination ensures the right people are working on the right things with the right tools. With such factors in place, a group knows that their work can continue over time and be sustained over the long term.

Like the four legs of a table, each is needed for true stability, said Gil. "You have to get all four correct."

A habit he swears by: Gil listens to classical music on the way to and from work, during those key transition times of the day. He says he believes it orders his mind and aids him given the domain-switching he does from meeting to meeting, helping him shift from project to project and manage residual tensions. “That aspect of emotional management, when you have to do context-switching very rapidly, I think it's extremely important,” explained Gil.

He enjoys Bach's Goldberg Variations as well as the composer's French and English suites (this episode features Bach’s French Suite No 5 by Peter Bradley-Fulgoni). And Gil says he likes to listen to his music “reasonably” loud. “I think when it’s played like elevator music it’s not the same.”

More from Dario:

A book everyone should read: The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good. This book by Michael Sandel explores society’s obsession with achievement and how it can serve as the surprising root of divisions and inequities. “It’s an analysis of the dark side of meritocracy,” said Gil.

Winners in this system can have an outsized sense of their own importance, while ’losers’ - shut out from certain routes to success, such as degrees and other credentials - can be dismissed and discarded as not ‘deserving’.

Said Gil: “It’s a very interesting argument that I encourage everybody to look at.”

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Listen to Meet The Leader's sister podcasts World Vs Virus, about the global pandemic, and The Great Reset, on the efforts to 'build back better' here.