12 top leaders share how they are redefining leadership to embrace inclusivity

Our idea of leadership is changing. In a world of rapid change and disruption, this is a good thing.
Our idea of leadership is changing. In a world of rapid change and disruption, this is a good thing.
Image: Getty Images
  • The way we understand and conceive of leadership is rapidly changing.
  • Today, it's essential that leaders are empathetic and understand the importance of diversity.
  • 12 Young Global Leaders have shared how they embody this new philosophy of leadership in their own work.

In an era marked by rapid technological advancements, shifting global priorities and a growing emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion, the landscape of leadership is undergoing a profound transformation.

As the next generation of leaders emerges and matures, it is imperative that we redefine leadership models to ensure they are inclusive and accessible to all. We explore the emergence of this new leadership paradigm through the work of visionary Young Global Leaders who are championing change in various fields.

'Women will regularly turn a promotion down even if they are perfect for it'

Juliana Chan, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Wildtype Media Group

As a female CEO and founder, I would like to share what I have learned about promoting women into positions of seniority. I have discovered that women will regularly turn a promotion down even if they are perfect for it, for a variety of reasons. This is why I have become smarter in how I do this — I will prepare them six months before the promotion, ramping up their visibility and leadership slowly. When I finally offer them the promotion, I show them that they are already executing the future role — and excellently, at that. Since I adopted this format, all promotion offers have been accepted without hesitation.

'What we need in leaders, now more than ever, is a willingness to not become a victim'

Raju Narisetti, Leader, Global Publishing, McKinsey & Company

“Moving into and beyond COP28 and headed into Davos 2024, what we need in leaders now more than ever, is a willingness to not become a victim to the prevailing herd mentality around urgent yet unrealistic timetables. We need to steadfastly recommit to the ‘how to’ as much as the ‘if only,’ in our unwavering quest for a sustainable planet, because inclusive and sustainable growth must be about enhancing both lives (environment) and livelihoods (jobs). Leaders need to marry this clearly felt urgency with a pragmatic realism, and stand up for the best way to get everyone to where we all agree we need to get to, soon.” Says Raju Narisetti.

'As AI transforms many of the tasks my team and I do, my leadership role is now as an educator'

Geoffrey See, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Poko

“As AI transforms many of the tasks my team and I do, my leadership role is now as an educator. I help my team build the right culture and skills to experiment with AI across all functions, build and deliver AI platforms internally for them as their sandbox, and work with them to bring to life the most promising use cases they propose and pilot. LLMs have made AI more accessible than previous generation models I worked with. I see myself as being in the learning trenches with my teammates as they are now able to ideate and iterate on use cases directly, rapidly increasing our pace of AI adoption.”

'We are embracing inclusive and accessible models such as compassionate leadership'

Ashish J. Thakkar, Group Chief Executive Officer, Y9

“As the next generation redefines leadership, we are embracing inclusive and accessible models such as compassionate leadership, which prioritises empathy and collaboration and transformational and truthful leadership, which inspires positive change and transparency. We also believe in shared leadership with love, where diverse perspectives contribute to decision-making with an ‘everyone should win’ lens. These models reflect my spiritual leader Morari Bapus' teachings of truth, love and compassion.”

'Entrepreneurial thinking enables everyone from all levels to think on the vision and how to get there'

Richard Ettl, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, SkyCell

“Climate change is one of our generation's biggest challenges. In order to prevent severe consequences, we need to amend a company’s purpose — this calls for returns on the triple bottom line: People, Planet, Profit. In order to achieve this, I have adopted a value-based leadership model. Vision, values and entrepreneurial thinking are at its core. The vision is the reason why the company or organization is doing something. Values act as the guardrails when making difficult decisions. Entrepreneurial thinking enables everyone from all levels to think on the vision and how to get there.”

'A model of leadership that's based on empowerment, not charity'

Shani Senbetta, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Kidame Mar

“In my work supporting rural women in Ethiopia to start their own micro-enterprises, my goal is to make economic opportunities more accessible. We equip them with products to sell, financial resources, education and mentorship. This approach is about more than just giving people tools to succeed; it's about building their capacity to use these tools effectively. It's a model of leadership that's based on empowerment, not charity. To my surprise, the biggest challenge when starting Kidame Mart was the amount of effort required to bring about this mind shift among both my team and the women we work with.”

'Leaders must first recognize their own unconscious biases and then support colleagues to overcome theirs'

Anahita Thoms, Partner in International Trade Practice, Baker McKenzie

“'I treat everyone I work with equally, offering everyone a fair shot based solely on performance' — who wouldn't say that about themselves?

Yet, upon closer look, various groups of people, often based on their race, gender or other characteristics feel excluded from striving at their workplace. They may even face bullying or harassment. This is where leaders can and should make a difference in creating a safe, diverse and inclusive work environment. It starts with self-reflection. We all have unconscious biases. Leaders must first recognize their own unconscious biases and then support colleagues to overcome theirs. This is why we conduct unconscious bias training — to assist clients in spotting underlying structural inequities, addressing them at their roots and effectively creating a thriving business where differences are not just accepted, but celebrated.”

'Discover each and everyone’s zone of genius'

Tiffany Xingyu Wang, Chief Marketing Officer, OpenWeb

“’A leader is a multiplier who can turn a team into a community of belonging and trust. I call it 'community leadership’. First, discover each and everyone’s zone of genius. Second, craft the job around people rather than the other way around. Third, be an ally: navigate ambiguity toward a north star of impact. Last, put tools and processes in place for the talents to grow and shine. Using this framework, I can build a force for good that feels part of a community one can trust and belong to.”

'New generations of consumers are scrutinizing corporations and holding them accountable for their business practices'

Alejo Czerwonko, Chief Investment Officer, Emerging Markets, Americas, UBS AG

“We are living in a period of accelerated transformation — one that calls for multifaceted decision-making. New generations of consumers are scrutinizing corporations and holding them accountable for their business practices. Once-a-century environmental shocks are now occurring multiple times a year. Tectonic plates in world geopolitics are shifting and leading to more frequent and severe tensions. Artificial Intelligence is upending business models across industries. Now more than ever, a narrow-minded focus on the bottom line will no longer cut it. Success will require a wider focus and deliberate action — one that considers the impact of decisions on a broader range of stakeholders and the environment.”

'Global challenges are pressing leaders to adopt frameworks focused on inclusive growth and equity'

Minoush Abdelmeguid, Founder and Managing Director, Mezzan

“Global challenges are pressing leaders to adopt frameworks focused on inclusive growth and equity. Leaders have learned the hard way that choices of one affect the livelihood of many, and that exclusion will not only cause alienation but will create greater inefficiency. Leaders are required today, more than ever, to mobilize resources around a vision of a shared environment, and of a common future. This is the only way that will lead to a better tomorrow.”

'Hope is the driving force, but the way forward is created by solid strategies'

Bárbara Luiza Coutinho do Nascimento, State Prosecutor, Rio de Janeiro State Prosecutor's Office

“As the next generation redefines leadership, my approach focuses on instilling optimism and determination to overcome challenges while building feasible paths to reach our goals. Hope is the driving force, but the way forward is created by solid strategies. I employ methods that prioritize the use of technology and data-driven decision-making processes. The central values of my leadership model are integrity, transparency, accountability, collaboration and innovation. By fostering a hopeful spirit and embracing innovative and adaptable strategies while upholding ethical standards, I aspire to create an inclusive and accessible environment that allows for open, constructive and respectful dialogue.”

'Agile leadership motivates and empowers others towards inclusive, sustainable progress'

Landry Signé, Senior Fellow, Global Economy and Development Program, Brookings Institution

"The Fourth Industrial Revolution is reshaping the world, requiring leaders with agility, digital and ethical values. Agile leaders harness digital leadership and AI-informed leadership to achieve strategic goals and navigate global trends, working towards a more humane world. Agile leadership motivates and empowers others towards inclusive, sustainable progress. Agile leaders excel at addressing the challenges of rapid change, diverse stakeholders, and the need for significant impact. They're mission-focused, innovative, data-driven and inclusive. Agile leaders foster empowerment and continuous learning. These leaders are approachable, creative and responsible, treating everyone with respect and empathy, unwaveringly pursuing their mission and vision for a better future."

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The YGL community is made up of more than 1,300 members and alumni, including public officials, business innovators, artists, educators, technology developers, journalists and activists.

The mission of the Forum of Young Global Leaders is to create a dynamic global community of exceptional people with the vision, courage and influence to drive positive change in the world.

Aligned with the World Economic Forum’s mission, they seek to spur public-private cooperation amongst these unique actors to demonstrate entrepreneurship in the global public interest.

Representing more than 100 nationalities, Young Global Leaders are united by the belief that the urgent problems of today present an opportunity to forge a better future across sectors, generations and borders.

Visit the YGL website at: https://www.younggloballeaders.org/

As the next generation redefines leadership, these visionary leaders exemplify the diversity of approaches needed to create inclusive and accessible models. Whether it's advancing gender diversity, addressing environmental challenges, or harnessing emerging technologies, these leaders inspire us to adapt, evolve, and prioritize inclusivity in our leadership journeys.

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