Based on a series of in-depth interviews with senior executives, “Leadership in a Rapidly Changing World – How Business Leaders are Reframing Success” was launched at a breakfast briefing held at the Institute of Directors in London. The report is co-authored by Jo Wackrill and Graham Baxter from IBLF and Matthew Gitsham and Mark Pegg from Ashridge Business School.
The event - sponsored by Coca Cola Enterprises - saw IBLF’s Chairman, Mark Foster (former Group CEO, Accenture) take the stage to 'interview' Sir Stuart Rose, former CEO of M&S and Matthew Gitsham of Ashridge. An extremely interactive and insightful discussion followed, covering key findings from the report and their implications in the current climate. These findings include:
- A growing numbers of senior executives see a pursuit of business growth that is 'smart', 'inclusive' and 'responsible' as fundamental to the creation of long-term value
- More business leaders are connecting company success with social progress and paying attention to social and environmental issues that have conventionally been the territory of political leaders and NGO activists
- Not only do business leaders need to lead significant cultural change within their businesses, but they now need to increasingly work with others to play a leadership role beyond conventional business boundaries
- Senior executives now need to develop skills in areas that have not previously been a conventional part of the business leader’s repertoire
Sir Stuart Rose reflected on his own experiences and shared his views on how business leadership needs to change. He asserted:
- Younger people in the organisation often 'get' the sustainability agenda and it is often the people at the top who are slower to change
- It is the CEO’s job to keep up the drumbeat and unleash the energy and power of the organisation
- It is crucial for business leaders to set ambitious targets and to be prepared to put their heads above the parapet - despite the risks, they must set a course of action and stick to it
- It is critically important for businesses to build trust with consumers and society by acting with integrity and delivering value to society
Clare Melford, CEO of IBLF said:
"No longer is business leaders’ engagement with social issues largely ‘defensive’ and relegated to an annual philanthropic gesture, or a token recycling programme. This is in sharp contrast to a generation ago. "
The invitation-only event saw over 100 attendees from both business and other sectors engage in a lively Q&A session featuring challenging questions.