Inspiring Leaders – World Business Forum

Inspiring Leaders – World Business Forum in New York City 5th-6th October 2011

A Synopsis by Adrienne Davitt_______________________

Adrienne has just returned from an excellent, intensive (but very inspiring) two days in New York, where she was one of 5000 business leaders at the World Business Forum.

The themes covered this year were:

  • Global Leadership Challenges
  • Managing Top Teams & Talent
  • Megatrends
  • The New Economic Order
  • True Leadership & Purpose
  • Management Innovation
  • Creativity

Absolutely world-class presentations by the following have added to our drive to be leading edge in both our thinking and what we can offer our clients. Speakers included:

Bill George – Professor of Management at Harvard Business School on Rediscovering Authentic Leadership

Bill George is one of America’s most respected contemporary corporate leaders, best known for his time at Medtronic, the world’s leading medical technology company. Bill’s leadership philosophy stems from the belief that the world’s best leaders are the ones that have an authentic grasp of who they are and how they want to impact the world. He proposes a new kind of leadership for the 21st century, one that empowers at all levels of organisations (this fits very nicely with our current recommended reading – The Leader Who Had No Title by Robin Sharma).

Malcolm Gladwell – Outliers: Why Success Can Be So Personal

What are outliers? An outlier is someone whose success is so extraordinary that it inhabits a space outside the boundaries of everyday existence. Malcolm contends that our understanding of success is crude and he digs down to come up with a better set of explanations.  He has developed into one of the most culturally stimulating and thought-provoking modern writers. Instead of looking at tall trees, he thinks we should have been looking at the forest i.e. an Outlier’s culture, community, family and generation.

Tal Ben-Sahar – Positive Leadership: Why Happiness is Good for Business

What is positive psychology? For much of its history, psychology has seemed obsessed with human failings and pathology. Positive psychology, however, looks at how to improve human functioning and make normal like more fulfilling. Positive psychology aims to make rigorous academic ideas accessible to all. Tal taught the largest course at Harvard on “Positive Psychology” and the third largest on “The Psychology of Leadership”. He believes that by asking more positive questions, we can help people and organisations to thrive by focusing on what works rather than what doesn’t. He firmly believes that happiness is good for business.

Howard Schultz – Managing Vision and Culture; The Makings of a Global Brand

Howard Schultz is Chairman, President and CEO of the Starbucks Coffee Company. He has been recognised extensively for his passion, leadership and efforts to strengthen communities. Not the usual CEO, he describes himself as a hands-on leader and a coffee culture connoisseur. He spoke about the journey of inspiration from concept to execution and how to make the customer experience innovation in a cup of coffee. Connection, Conversation and Community are the critical factors to enduring success, he believes and quotes “risk more than others think safe, dream more than others think practical”. He emphasised the need for effective succession planning and a Top Team made up of people with skills you don’t have. He also believes that the rules of engagement are changing in business globally and that value for your people and community = shareholder value. “Humanity needs to be our guiding principle, not just our shareholder value.

Gary Burnison – CEO of Korn/Ferry International – Executive Recruitment and Talent Management solutions provider

The key questions asked in a recent survey on Executive Talent & Leadership are:

  • What role does talent and leadership play in a challenging economic environment?
  • What are the most important competencies/characteristics for today’s leaders?
  • How has leadership changed?
  • What are the pressing talent concerns impacting the global labour market in this new world?

Angela Ahrendts – Leading Creativity-Driven Businesses: A Case Study

In 2006, Angela became CEO of Burberry and has since been responsible for a strategy that has seen Burberry’s annual revenues increase by over 60% and ensured that Burberry is now regarded as one of the leading British brands in the world. Angela “lives” the brand and Burberry was recently voted the 13th most innovative company in the world. She has achieved this by focusing on the following:

  • Developing a balanced, connected team. The Creative Director and the Chief Technology Officer are aligned and equal
  • By putting the brand first and emphasising the importance of the cultural context to Burberry’s creativity, the brand is elevated over individual egos
  • Recognised early on the implications of the digital imperative and relaunched the company digitally worldwide within 9 months
  • Continuous balancing of art and commerce means that everyone is energised, intuition and innovation are key components to success as its a young business with an average executive age of 30
  • A very clear vision is required, aligned with an equally clear strategy

More to follow…