Leadership in a Rapidly Changing World

2 years ago I undertook a course at Ashridge Business School. As an “alumni” I periodically receive invitations to various Business Leadership events. Today (Thursday April 29th) I attended an event at the IoD in London which was the launch of a report lead jointly by Ashridge Business School and IBLF (International Business Leaders Forum) entitled “Leadership in a Rapidly Changing World: how business leaders are reframing success.”
With the work that Marcus Culverwell (Reigate St Mary’s Prep School) and I have been doing on developing a draft sustainability policy for IAPS, this is a document that may lend credence to the strand of our research that will consider the challenge to the prevailing ideas of business leadership and its impact on leadership in schools.
The report can now be accessed online however, in the meantime, I have prepared the following as a very brief summary.
Read Full Report

  • Market demand for improved quality of life and inclusion in a resource-constrained context has lead to reframing measurement of success and moving beyond short-termism.
  • Shifting cultural & societal norms, changing economic and political policy and environmental impact provoke evolution in dominant ideas about business leadership.
  • With corporations such as Apple (http://thingsappleisworthmorethan.tumblr.com/) now being so vast, business leaders are increasingly developing an understanding of the major forces shaping society.
  • Business leaders are increasingly engaging with language and building relationships that have previously been the preserve of politics and activism.
  • Consequently leaders have had to develop skills in leading change, collaboration with unconventional stakeholders, engaging empathetically with multiple interest groups.
  • When considering the future and forces that will shape global society we may need radically different approaches to leadership in business.
  • Key experiences are crucial in influencing and shifting perspectives.

There is much, I am certain, that would resonate with many school leaders. I asked a question at the forum about lessons that could be learned by heads. The response from Sir Stuart Rose (formerly CEO of M&S) and Mark Foster (formerly Group CE of Accenture) was two-fold. Schools need to prepare young people with the values and provide the key experiences that will influence their adult life choices. In addition, young people entering the workplace must be encouraged to carry with them their convictions and possess the skills to work with leaders who may or may not share them.
Schools are naturally given to creating shared value over a long term (7-14 years of a child’s schooling) with a myriad of stakeholders. What I heard today shares themes emerging from the that Marcus and I are doing, recent experiences at both the Education for Sustainable Development Curriculum Group and the IAPS London-wide conference on the shifting educational paradigm driven by mobile technology and social media. Schools ought to be engaged in this discussion as the leadership within them and the influences on young people will have profound consequences for the pace at which our society meets these challenges in this rapidly changing world.


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