Richard Haythornthwaite: a lifetime of leading change

New Xynteo Chairman reflects on his leadership journey and what's next for Xynteo.

Since 15th April, Haythornthwaite has been operating as the Chairman at Xynteo alongside his role as Chair of Mastercard’s Board of Directors, a longstanding partner to Xynteo. 

Haythornthwaite believes that what separates Xynteo in the eyes of leaders of global corporations, is its capacity to ask them the right leadership questions, while also providing a supportive community of their peers. This leadership focus is the key to the systemic change that our societies need: change that can only come about through leaders reinventing themselves, before moving on to transform their organisations and the wider systems they operate in.

“By the age of 42, I became a FTSE 100 CEO”, Haythornthwaite shares. “I may have had less experience, but I was determined to bring a personal approach that embraced a systemic perspective. I believe in the power of dialogue and faith, in the capacity of people to respond with energy and ingenuity to trusting, decent leadership.” 

“After eight years of highly intense and exhausting challenges as a CEO, l decided to move on to chairing boards. In the role of Chair, I still need to be fully on top of affairs, but can cover a much broader spread of activities, both corporate and cultural. I spend my time influencing, mentoring, forging creative connections and bringing perspective at times of stress, rather than being fully and constantly engaged on the front line. And I am very honoured to have become an official part of Xynteo where I can help deliver the same results here.”

As Haythornthwaite officially joins the Xynteo community, he has shared some insights into how he views change and the movement to reinvent growth:

What do you believe are the most important factors that are driving change right now?

  • The pervasive availability of information, sometimes insightful, other times misleading. The democratisation of social media power, to noisy tribes able to destroy but not yet create. And the justified sense that emerging technologies can, if deployed imaginatively, deliver a future that is better than a past increasingly viewed as having been recklessly indulgent and leaving the next generation a bankrupt legacy. All stirred, at present, by a real, rather than manufactured, global crisis.

Xynteo focuses on “Reinventing Growth”. What does this term mean from your perspective?

  • New ways of deploying technology and human ingenuity to drive growth, both economic and social. A growth that renews rather than depletes our planet’s capacity to support life and, by so doing, involves and brings benefit to the many, not just the few, while balancing the short and long term.

If you jumped forward to three or four years from now, what do you think will have changed for the companies that Xynteo is currently working closely with?

  • They will exist, which sets them out from those who did not engage with Xynteo. Failure to adapt to shifting demands on the corporate sector from society, and, by extension, investors and politicians, will result in extinction. For those that worked closely with Xynteo, their currently purpose-driven aspirations to a different plane of leadership, will have been transformed into material impact, underpinned by, and underpinning, a digital journey with implications for all products, services, organisation, partnerships, systems, processes and culture. Xynteo will have helped as a guide over that period, through its expansive perspective towards change - looking beyond the enterprise to use cases that matter and can drive change along all axes. Xynteo will also have given them the ability to create coalitions that enable and amplify global impact.