Leading today is as difficult as it has ever been. The complexity of leading an organization has only grown with the pace of technological innovation, the uncertainty and change brought about by the pandemic, and the increasing calls for more corporate social responsibility. Successfully navigating these issues requires responsible leadership, but what is responsible leadership?
Responsible leadership does not reflect traditional leadership beliefs. It requires building trust across the organization while also creating a culture of innovation. According to a recent report from Accenture, there are a number of surprising qualities demonstrated by responsible leaders including:
- Continuous learning backed by data
- Stakeholder mindset anchored in compassion
- Technology vision reinforced by creativity
- Generous humility
- Listening to intuition
The report highlights the change we are currently facing, “The world is at a crossroads. Much of the global economy has experienced a long period of growth. But too many people and communities have not benefited, while environmental threats and technology risks have intensified. A sustainable future is under threat. Business leaders know there’s no “free lunch,” yet too few have found a way to pursue profitable growth in concert with positive social and environmental impact. What’s promising is that an increasingly vocal range of stakeholders—consumers, employees, investors, business partners, policymakers and wider society—are pointing the way towards a more responsible course…Moreover, there’s no shortage of appetite and energy to tackle the task, especially among the younger generations already at the vanguard of change.”
There is little doubt that the next decade finds today’s leaders with an opportunity to make significant changes in how we live and work. The interconnectedness of economies, global warming, and the fourth industrial revolution are all areas that will require navigation. Accenture has outlined five qualities that define responsible leadership as we look to the next decade.
Safeguarding trust and positive impact for all by standing in the shoes of diverse stakeholders when making decisions—and fostering an inclusive environment where diverse individuals have a voice and feel they belong:
- Accountable decisions are strengthened by diverse participation and perspectives.
- Guarding and growing stakeholder trust becomes second nature.
- An impact mindset ensures rigorous anticipation of an organization’s activity.
Emotion & Intuition
Unlocking commitment and creativity by being truly human, showing compassion, humility, and openness:
- People are encouraged to use instinct and imagination.
- Humility disarms stakeholders through honesty about personal limits or vulnerabilities.
- People are treated as ends rather than means, inspiring emotional engagement.
Mission & Purpose
Advancing common goals by inspiring a shared vision of sustainable prosperity for the organization and its stakeholders:
- Long-term commitments are implemented with integrity and transparency.
- Systems thinking helps the co-creation of outcomes in complex ecosystems.
- Sensemaking leaders help others see what’s happening in a wider society.
Technology & Innovation
Creating new organizational and societal value by innovating responsibly with emerging technology:
- The promotion of a tech vision helps people apply new technology to solve problems.
- Responsible processes minimize negative consequences and help create new societal value.
- Cultivation of creativity multiplies the problem-solving potential of technology.
Intellect & Insight
Finding ever-improving paths to success by embracing continuous learning and knowledge exchange:
- Data-to-knowledge loops are used to enable and improve agile decision-making.
- Critical thinking is encouraged to challenge orthodox ideas.
- Continuous learning is championed at all levels of the organization.
For more in-depth information on these five qualities, we encourage you to read the full report. As they call out, the framework above is simply a starting point. It is an iterative process that will reflect your organization’s culture, employee needs, and stakeholder expectations. “Responsible leadership becomes real when it learns from and ultimately reflects those it serves.” If you have questions or need help in creating a culture that supports responsible leadership, send us a note.