At a recent World Economic Forum event in San Francisco Klaus Schwab was asked by an audience member what it takes to be a successful leader in today’s complex and fast paced world. Schwab, who founded the World Economic Forum in 1971 as a nonprofit “committed to improving the state of the world” has helped to advance discussion of some of society’s toughest issues for decades. He responded with four characteristics that he believes are critical for today’s leaders. I list these characteristics below, and then explore how they line up with the dimensions we at the Center for Social Innovation believe are central to leading for social impact.
These are clearly valuable attributes in any leader. But are they enough to drive social innovation?
At the Center for Social Innovation we have engaged with, studied and educated myriad social innovators. This work has informed our thinking about the targeted characteristics it takes to lead social impact. When we seek to understand the key skills of a social innovator operating in today’s complex world, we find that Schwab’s dimensions of leadership are relevant but not complete.
Here are the attributes we find essential to leaders for social innovation:
In this quickly evolving world, we need more leaders who are adept social innovators to help us address our mounting global problems. We need them not only in positions of leadership, but also peppered throughout our organizations and our entire social structure. What more can we do to foster these leadership traits in the people poised to lead our organizations, communities, and world toward a more just, prosperous and sustainable future?