Participants of the Leadership Vanguard, Xynteo's year-long leadership experience, met in Seattle to build the leadership skills required in a fast-changing market and get inspired by Xynteo's network of leaders.
The Leadership Vanguard Exchange brought together unique perspectives and thought leaders to enhance the participants' capabilities as leaders and to accelerate impact enterprises working on some of the world's most complex challenges. The Vanguard participants, senior leaders from Mastercard, Energias de Portugal, Baker Hughes, HSBC, Shell, ICRC, Tata and Unilever met with inspiring leaders and experts who shared diverse perspectives on topics such as leading during transition and social change, addressing systemic problems, engaging in challenging collaborations and achieving human sustainability. The purpose was to disrupt the participants' regular patterns of thought and prepare for the next phase of the Leadership Vanguard programme where the leaders will collaborate with impact enterprises to create fruitful partnerships and scale their solutions.
Leadership in times of transition
A focus of this Vanguard Exchange was to explore leadership in times of transition and societal changes. Jochen Thewes, CEO of DB Schenker and Mastercard Chairman Rick Haythornthwaite shared their perspectives on leadership in challenging times. Thewes, who leads one of the world's largest logistics companies, reflected on leading a major organisation through a time of transformation.
"My industry was for a long time shielded from disruption, but it is hitting us now. As a CEO you need to take decisions and directions without really knowing where they are going. You need to have the courage to take the ball two seconds before the game is over and take the shot, knowing that you might fail", Thewes said. Deborah Frieze, Founder and President of Boston Impact Initiative, a fund investing in enterprises that address the challenges such as the growing wealth gap, shared her perspectives on systemic change processes. "How do we work with change that is not causal and linear? Most of the systems we're trying to change are complex, emergent and unpredictable", Frieze said. "To create transformative change, we need people who work inside the system, outside the system—and those who make visible the choice between the two."
Addressing systemic problems
Learning to intervene in systemic problems is key in the Leadership Vanguard programme. The leaders heard from DD Johnice, Sr Director, National Community Health & Social Innovation at health care and insurance company Kaiser Permanente, working to address California's multilayered and complex homelessness challenge.
Johnice reflected on her organisation's systemic approach to addressing homelessness. With her team she mapped the current homelessness and housing situation and the stakeholders in the ecosystem. They could then explore areas to make interventions. The organisation also used approaches like speculative design and assessed what would have to change in order to achieve success. They then designed different future scenarios, to imagine what different futures would look like for varying stakeholders. She emphasised how the strategies and resources to solve many challenges already exist, and a key focus is how to best accelerate them.
Bringing together individuals and organsations that otherwise would not collaborate, is a key aspect of the Leadership Vanguard. To celebrate how unusual collaborations can create excellent outcomes, the participants heard from Zahir Khoja, SVP, Global Acceptance Product Development and Innovation at Mastercard and Lt General Sir Graeme Lamb. While Khoja shared experiences from challenging collaborations in a conflict-torn state, Lamb reflected on similar collaborations from his deployment in Iraq.
"When you get the value exchange right, unusual things can happen", Lamb said. He reflected on the importance of having the confidence to know that when embarking on difficult collaborations, things may not work out — but they certainly would not work out if you did not make that difficult choice in the first place.
Truly human leadership
Bob Chapman, author, TEDx speaker and CEO of Barry-Wehmiller reflected on strategic and truly human leadership, arguing that leaders must care for their employees and treat them thereafter. "I'm worried about human sustainability", Chapman said in a conversation with Xynteo CEO, Osvald Bjelland. "We suffer from leadership malpractice. We need leaders that care". The greatest act of leadership is not talking, but listening, and showing the people that work for you that you care". He emphasised how leaders have the opportunity to give the people in their care that privilege. "Management is the manipulation of others for your success. Leadership is a profound responsibility for those you have the privilege to lead and it takes skills and courage to care".
Next stop Bangalore
The Leadership Vanguard programme director, Rick Wheatley, at the Leadership Vanguard Exchange in Seattle.[/caption] The next Leadership Vanguard Exchange will take place in Bangalore, India in November 2019. Until then, the participating leaders will embark on the acceleration phase of the Vanguard programme, where they will work with six impact enterprises to accelerate their solutions to global, pressing problems.
The leaders shortlisted these impact enterprises after engaging with them during field trips to India and Tanzania earlier this year. The Revaluing Plastics team went to Bangalore to explore plastic waste management, the Financial Inclusion team travelled to Dar es Salaam to explore how stakeholders work to increase financial inclusion and the Low Carbon Cities team went to Bangalore to explore sustainable solutions for mobility and waste management. In the next phase of the Leadership Vanguard programme, the leaders will collaborate with the impact enterprises to create fruitful partnerships and scale their innovative solutions. When meeting in Bangalore, they will present the results from the collaboration.