Leading & Listening: A Citizen Manifesto
We are living in a new Dickensian era – the best of times and the worst; It is a time of great progress yet a time of great decline. One thing is very clear: citizens across the world are seeking and craving leadership that goes well beyond a spreadsheet – they are seeking leaders who are stewards of both our heritage and our future. This is one key finding in a study completed by Brunswick Group, a global strategic advisory firm with 24 offices in 14 countries.
In a survey of 42,965 citizens across 26 countries and 25 languages, a majority of people believe that (1) their countries will benefit from business success and (2) that business can provide solutions to “the major challenges” facing their countries. Every market surveyed had net agreement with the idea that “when businesses in my country do well, the entire country benefits.”
Demonstrating an interesting paradox, these same people agreed that “business leaders in my country do not understand the challenges I face in my life.” This is especially acute in the United States, India, Finland, Mexico, South Africa, Spain, and Brazil, where over 65% believe that business leaders simply don’t understand their reality.
How do leaders who “don’t understand me” lead that very same person who has acknowledged that business can be a critical element to solving problems? How can a leader influence me as a consumer, a citizen, a customer and an employee in these transformational times?
First, commit to people before profits. Citizens want leadership on education, training and on creating economic opportunity and equality. Investing to improve these areas will lead to higher long-term profits for enterprises. Second, be a technology leader. Technology is the only thing that people across the globe believe is getting better and faster. Third, acknowledge the lack of trust and do more to repair these relationships. Shareholders are important stakeholders but companies cannot exist without customers – many of whom are in emerging markets who welcome your presence.
Listen, learn, lead and act – citizens expect, need and hope for your leadership.
Brunswick Group LLP is an advisory firm specializing in critical issues and corporate relations. Founded in 1987, Brunswick is an organically grown, private partnership with 24 offices around the world. For more information on The Generations issue of the Brunswick Review, please click here.