Saturday, March 2, 2013

World Economic Forum & Global Leadership's Integrity

At one point I used to admire most of the discussions from the World Economic Forum.  In 2006, I found the excitement at WEF hit hyperbole levels, and insights from a very few, such as Mr. Nouriel Roubini, were ignored, if not outright neglected.  See Mr Roubini's article in the EconoMonitor here regarding his 2006 speech at Davos.

In the January, 2013, The Economist's Schumpeter brought this hyperbole into reality:

"...when the public look at what is on offer [WEF at DAVOS], they are not impressed. Many of the bankers and politicians caught dozing by the financial crisis were regulars at Davos. Ordinary folk trust Davos Man no more than they would a lobbyist for the Worldwide Federation of Weasels. A survey by Edelman, a public-relations firm, finds that only 18% of people trust business leaders to tell the truth. For political leaders, the figure is 13%."

The article goes on to question the current global leadership and its various pitfalls today.

What I am interested in highlighting is that a corporate and political leadership that has grown up during the times when the past pretty consistently and with regular intervals repeated itself, are unable to comprehend the the continuous flux of economics, need for flexibility with sustainability, and the march of technology driving democratization.  The days of living the efficiency and effectiveness mantra do exist though without extreme agility across all aspect of business and government, only create dilemmas such as two economic crisis within a decade (2002 and 2009).

"...there is still a flaw with the very notion of global leadership. Abraham Lincoln observed that “nearly all men can stand adversity but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Similar temptations afflict those who are given the title of “young global leader”. Clever businesspeople have a tendency to be arrogant at the best of the times; telling them that they are masters of the universe can only magnify it. Arrogance breeds mistakes: look at all the empire-building bosses who attempt ambitious mergers despite ample evidence that such mergers usually fail."

It is a time for a 21st century global leadership to emerge, and I believe it will not be crafted through the amalgamation of the old to drive the status quo.  Key to this new leadership in the corporate and political worlds will be to know that they do not know the unknowns that are to challenge them.

So... the question is, how does one prepare for the unknown unknowns?  One thing is for certain, it will not be learned by extrapolating the past!

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