We kicked off our new webinar series, The Power Series, in March. Yesterday, our seventh episode, called The Power of Good Leadership, went live with insight from two amazing thought leaders. To discuss what it means to be a good leader, especially in the face of adversity, we welcomed Paul Polman, Co-founder and Chair of IMAGINE, and Valerie Keller, Co-founder and CEO of IMAGINE.
Paul and Valerie shared their thoughts on the challenges of leading in the present circumstances, and the opportunities leaders see in times of crisis. As usual, the discussion was lead with questions from Positive Luxury CEO and Co-founder, Diana Verde Nieto.
Her first question was about leading in these difficult times, and what kinds of leadership styles will prevail. “The trend towards AI and tech require different leadership, and the pace of change has picked up during COVID-19,” said Paul. “We have also seen the importance of multi-stakeholder models, and the effects of being an interdependent world, which requires other leadership skills.” He then discussed the best skills in a leader right now, like humility, empathy and compassion, as well as fostering collaborative relationships, and a higher level of moral leadership.
Next, Valerie discussed what she believes makes a good leader. “Leadership is contextual,” she began. “What is the environment, what are we leading for, who are we leading? In this moment where we have a historic pause that allows us to fundamentally rethink what our lives and businesses are about, no matter who we talk with, no matter what webinar we’re in, we have this shared human experience that is allowing us to pause and think how we can do stuff differently.” She went on to say that the best leaders are the ones who are facing this crisis with humanity and taking care of people. “In prior evolutions, when we first started looking at sustainable business, we were having to make a case to take care of people,” she added. “And now, we might furlough people, but we as leaders might take cuts, and we’re seeing a wider circle of care. It’s not just our people but also people who help our business. So we’re going to take care of our suppliers, too.”
Then, Diana asked how we can get back on track and restart with people and planet at the heart of our solutions. “I think the first thing that we’re asking people to do is not think about getting back on track,” said Valerie. “It’s not about business as usual. It’s an opportunity to rethink what we’ve been creating. So the real opportunity is for people who are not saying ‘let’s get back to business as usual.’ The track was already heading in the wrong direction, and that wasn’t a light at the end of the tunnel – it was an oncoming train.”
Paul agreed, adding that he thinks “the crisis has shown us that you can’t have healthy people on an unhealthy planet. Relationships between biodiversity and health are increasingly understood.” He pointed out that the crisis has also highlighted our lack of social cohesion, and that our most vulnerable professions are the most underpaid and the least protected. “The third thing is that people who do well are the ones that work in cooperation,” he added. “I believe that businesses are going to start creating deep relationships with all of their stakeholders, and those relationships should be based on a shared purpose and values. The leaders that do best are the leaders that speak the truth, give wise guidance and provide a sense of hope.”
For more from each of our amazing panellists, including three pieces of advice for leaders today, and the Q&A responses, watch the entire webinar by clicking on the button below. Then, register for the next episode in the webinar series on Thursday, 14th May, The Power of Local, here.
WATCH IT HERE
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Written by - Tara MacInnis