On the Front Lines of Progressive Leadership: Lessons Learned for Shared Success

I had the honour to moderate an insightful and inspiring webinar on October 27 with three diverse and remarkable thinkers, all of whom have recently published excellent books on the topic of enlightened business leadership:

  • Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Chairman of the Foundation for the UN Global Compact and former Chairman of Shell and Anglo American, and author of Responsible Leadership: Lessons from the Front Line of Sustainability and Ethics.
  • Christine Bader, a visiting scholar at Columbia University,former policy manager at BP, former special advisor to the UN Special Representative on business and human rights, and author of The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist: When Girl Meets Oil.
  • Witold (Vit) Henisz, the Deloitte & Touche Professor of Management at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Principal at PRIMA LLC and author of Corporate Diplomacy: Building Reputations and Relationships with External Stakeholders.

The conversation covered a great deal of terrain (you can listen to the full discussion here) beginning with the lessons learned from the distinguished panelists and ending with their views on applying those lessons in business to build better, more resilient and sustainable companies.
Seven key insights surfaced in the discussion:

  1. The imperative to rebuild trust in business by learning from past failures and successes across a range of companies over the past decade.
  2. The need for companies to be more open and engaging with external stakeholders and to apply rigorous approaches to understanding stakeholder perspectives.
  3. The significance of deep listening to stakeholders, including those who are critical or even antagonistic.
  4. The importance of coalitions and partnerships between businesses and government and NGOs, and the role of companies in supporting stronger governance in all jurisdictions where they operate.
  5. The growing value of skills from the social sciences that are being put into practice by Corporate Idealists and Corporate Diplomats within global companies.
  6. The increasingly serious and strategic approaches that people on the front lines in companies need to take to better engage their colleagues internally.
  7. The critical need to narrow any gaps between professed principles and values by corporate leaders and actions by employees through meaningful and ongoing discussions with employees and visible demonstrations of how these values play out in business decisions.

Despite very diverse backgrounds of the authors of Responsible Leadership, The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist, and Corporate Diplomacy, all three books powerfully draw on global and personal examples, emphasize the importance of relationships and consultation, and explore honestly the very grey areas of life at the forefront of corporate sustainability.

More information about the speakers:

Witold (Vit) Henisz
Explore his Corporate Diplomacy portal, Executive Education program, LinkedIn group, and follow him on Twitter @whenisz
Christine Bader
Join her mailing list by either emailing (cb@christinebader.com) or signing up on her website (christinebader.com), and follow her on Twitter @christinebader
Sir Mark Moody Stewart
Learn more about his role as Chairman of the Foundation for the UN Global Compact, and buy his book Responsible Leadership