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New world, new rules, new leaders

As a changing world imposes new rules for success and gives rise to new challenges, we are witnessing a growing deficit of leadership and a loss of trust in our leaders. In all areas of endeavour and regions of the world, we see leaders lacking the ability to navigate today’s world shaped by flux, turbulence and uncertainty.

Too often organisations fail their beneficiaries, funders and staff by being unwilling or unable to address the need to change and adapt. In some cases, even to uphold basic human standards and rights. Countries are unnecessarily driven to poverty and conflict because of populist, self-interested and fear-fuelled leadership choices. The consequences are disastrous. For when leaders do not lead, productivity drops, working and living environments deteriorate, conflicts and crises emerge.  Why are we suffering such a dangerous leadership vacuum?

Changing times require new leadership capabilities and it has become increasingly difficult to practice leading amidst all the complexity, diversity and distractions of the world today.  Yet, little progress is being made to prepare people by updating the skills of current leaders and in nurturing new leaders. Investment in developing leadership capabilities has been extremely limited to date in the peace, security, governance and development sectors. In business schools and universities, what they provide is often not relevant, decoupled from reality, overlooking the contexts and mind-sets that shape the ways we interact and lead others.1

In 2015, the GCSP and the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) took it upon themselves to address the urgent yet largely missed need for leadership development and formed the Geneva Leadership Alliance. It has since equipped over 1300 individuals with the capabilities to tackle the adverse dynamics of today through increasing their capacity to lead. At individual, team, organisational and societal levels of impact, the Alliance is advancing a revised understanding of leading that is better suited to the new workplace demands brought about by globalisation and technology advancements. It provides change-makers, subject matter experts, senior and mid-level professionals with the skills, tools and mind-sets to thrive in today’s increasingly digitalized and interdependent world. It enables them act together to secure a sustainable future for themselves, their organisations and their communities; to create a better tomorrow for their children and the planet. Supported by expert facilitators, mentors and coaches, our course participants leave better equipped to create positive change in a new world.


This article was written by Peter Cunningham, Geneva Leadership Alliance Co-Director; Leadership and Strategy Cluster Responsible and Ines Gassal-Bosch, Junior Programme Officer for the Leadership and Strategy Cluster. Peter Cunningham is also the course director for the 'Lead and Influence with Impact' course. 

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