Gut Check: Are You a Responsive and Responsible Leader?

January 20, 2017 Vince Molinaro

Klaus Schwab Speaking at the World Economic ForumI have always thought that January is a great month.

Not only is it the start of a new year and a chance to reboot and get our lives and careers back on track, but it’s also a time when some of the brightest minds on the planet gather in Davos, Switzerland for the annual World Economic Forum (WEF).

The WEF is one of the few global summits where leaders from business, government, and other facets of society gather to discuss and debate some of our most pressing challenges and opportunities.

During last year’s forum, there was a CEO panel that reflected on leadership. Their conclusion was hardly surprising to those of us that work in this area: leadership is in crisis. Those words were almost prophetic when you think of all the significant leadership stories that transpired in 2016.

So what’s in store at this year’s forum?

Well, Dr. Klaus Schwab, the Founder and the Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, shared his insights recently.

Schwab believes that all leaders must be able to navigate a world that is more complex and uncertain than ever before. To do that effectively, he believes we need to be responsive to the ever-changing forces that drive the outcomes in our personal and professional lives.

We must, as Schwab says, “Be receptive to signals that are constantly arriving from an ever-changing landscape.”  We must then make the adjustments necessary to lead effectively in that new landscape.

But being responsive is only part of what is required, according to Schwab. Leaders must also be responsible to those they lead and to society as a whole. This is absolutely necessary, Schwab added, given that “The world today seems to be engulfed in a sea of pessimism, negativity, and cynicism.”

Schwab believes that we need leaders who can lift millions of people out of these negative conditions. Will we be successful? It all depends on the choices that all of us as leaders will make this year.

“More than ever, we will need responsive and responsible leadership to address our collective challenges, and to restore people’s trust in institutions and in one another. We do not lack the means to make the world a better place. But to do so, we must look past our own narrow interests and attend to the interests of our global society.”

Schwab’s leadership vision has clearly resonated with the organizers of the Davos summit. This year’s official theme is “Responsive and Responsible Leadership.”

These are important ideas that tie closely to my own thinking and writing about leadership accountability. We must all become more accountable in our roles. Our research reveals that there is a global leadership accountability gap, and we can be neither responsive nor responsible until we decide to be truly accountable.

Think about the world in which you lead. Is there opportunity for you to be more responsive to the changes taking place in your industry? Has your own organization been engulfed with pessimism, negativity and cynicism? How might you lift the spirits of those you lead?

This week’s gut check question is inspired by the theme of the 2017 World Economic Forum: are you a responsive and responsible leader?

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About the Author

Vince Molinaro

Vince Molinaro is the Global Managing Director of Strategic Solutions at Lee Hecht Harrison. He is also the author of The Leadership Contract – a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. Vince has spent more than 20 years as an adviser to boards and senior executives looking to improve leadership in their organizations.

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