What's leadership without emotions?

29 Nov 2018

The first day of Xynteo Exchange/Norway 2018 closed with a discussion on what it takes to lead with purpose in the 21st century. A clear theme emerged from the discussion: we need leadership that takes human emotion into account.

Sasja Beslik, head of group sustainable finance, Nordea, noted how the financial industry today reflects the society we operate in. "The scale and pace of change we need is huge but that also generates equally huge opportunities." He added, "the opportunity is in front of us but we still try to navigate the choices. It is about taking a leadership position and being accountable. We need to reinvent the social contract for the future." He encouraged participants to close their eyes for 30 seconds and think about the most important thing in their lives. He asked how many were thinking of money. "This feeling unites us more than money ever will. If we start evaluating what is truly important for us, maybe leadership starts doing that too," he said.

Megan Rock, strategic advisor to the director of operations at the International Committee of the Red Cross talked about finding community-based solutions. Deeply rooted empathy drove her but she emphasised that that wasn't enough. "It should be about empathy in actions."

John-Arne R√łttingen, chief executive, Research Council of Norway, highlighted that we need a platform to lead with research-based knowledge. "Our current platforms are unstable (fake news)." He noted that there is a lack of trust in society and the system. "We need a science for system change and work on changing beliefs and understanding."

Johnny Harris, senior producer, Vox Media, talked about how 'storytelling' was the new buzzword but that it had lost its value. He suggested replacing storytelling with connection. "90 per cent of communication is lost when leaders try to tell people what they want them to know. As a leader we have to look at how we can communicate the available information better so that people can connect with it."

Johnny Harris