Bouchra Carlier’s recent blog “What does it take to be a responsible leader in this new decade?” talks about our recent research to understand the most effective model of responsible leadership in the 2020s—one that delivers sustainable and equitable growth for all

What does it take to be a responsible leader in this new decade?

While no two companies are the same, we pinpointed the leadership qualities that are most highly valued and are essential to success. These qualities, identified as the Five Elements, reflect the different goals and values of a responsible organization. And they are guiding lights that can be applied when responsible leaders make important decisions.

Let’s take a look at these Five Elements in more detail:

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Stakeholder inclusion
Responsible leadership starts with the understanding that being stakeholder-centric is second nature—putting the accent on relationships with clients, investors, regulators, employees, business partners and the communities affected by how the organization operates.

Responsible leaders stand in the shoes of every stakeholder when making decisions. They make sure everyone’s voice is heard. This commitment to inclusion makes leaders more accountable and encourages different points of view that lead to better decision making. It helps leaders to assess the effect of the organization’s actions on everyone.

We believe stakeholder inclusion is vital. It means that the organization’s leadership is able to win and grow the trust of all—which is a rare and precious asset.

Emotion & Intuition
Responsible leadership needs to unlock commitment and creativity by being truly human, showing compassion, humility and openness.

Responsible leaders are humble. The idea of proud leaders leaving a trail of hubris wherever they go couldn’t be more out of date. Today’s responsible leaders understand the limits of their own knowledge and skills. And they aren’t afraid to display vulnerability, when the situation calls for it.

You’ve probably been involved in many situations yourself where emotion and intuition have proved necessary—for example, if your team is faced with a new market disruption—where the best course of action is to use your imagination and creative instincts.

Mission & Purpose
Responsible leaders help shape and inspire a vision of sustainable prosperity that can be shared, not only by everyone in their organizations, but also by their organization’s stakeholders.

They use sensemaking to understand, early on, the trends taking shape in society, and they apply holistic, systemic thinking to ensure their organization creates positive outcomes for itself and others in highly complex environments.

Integrity is taken as read.It is reflected not only in honesty and transparency, but also is necessary in the evolving ethical challenges posed by emerging technologies. Ethics can’t be allowed to lag behind in adapting to these new challenges at speed.

Technology & Innovation
We all know technology can’t solve every problem we face as a society—but it can help to solve many of them. Our research found that responsible leaders use technology to create new value for both their organizations and society—and actively manage technology’s potential by innovating responsibly with emerging technology.

They shape and promote a tech vision that states clearly the benefits of applying cutting-edge technology to solve problems. And they scale up solutions and minimize the unintended consequences of innovation by embracing a responsible approach to it.

We can see that creativity is essential here, too. Responsible leaders promote a creative approach to tech and innovation that multiplies their problem-solving potential.

Intellect & Insight
Continuous learning and the exchange of knowledge can open ever-improving paths to success.

Responsible leaders have an insatiable appetite for learning and they support learning at all levels of their organization. They are highly capable of thinking critically and ready to challenge established ideas as a way to improve, continuously.

They also support pioneering, objective analysis that strengthens data-to-knowledge loops, both within their organization and outside it.

Five Elements: Stakeholder inclusion, Emotion & Intuition, Mission & Purpose, Technology & Innovation and Intellect & Insight

Leaders at all levels

These Five Elements highlight the fact that responsible leadership is not for the fainthearted. And, as the many case studies in the report illustrate, it’s not down to one person, either. Our model applies across an entire organization—at every level, whatever your job title. It’s about the actual roles people play in the organization and beyond. So, although the Five Elements may be ambitious, they’re really important—we’re all responsible leaders in the making.

Eduardo Plastino

Thought Leadership Research Senior Principal

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