Zurich : IHRC Annual Symposium

26 Jun 2012

The New Models of Leadership

Today’s leaders have to deal with a range of many different global issues – be they of an economic, geopolitical, environmental, societal or technological nature. It is no longer possible to claim that an economic problem will be confined to one economic sphere only, or that an environmental risk won’t have repercussions on other areas.

The key concept here is systemic connectivity, which explains why leaders now face unprecedented global challenges that make their tasks so intricate and challenging. Systemic connectivity is the reason why leaders’ decisions are not only subject to their own choices, but also to those of others. And this interdependency is creating a new demand for unity, collaboration and togetherness – across organizational, industrial or regional borders.

This year’s Annual Symposium looks at the quantum change that is happening in the context in which leadership is taking place.

Experts’ views covering different angles such as Business, Civil Society and Education were presented to the 80 some IHRC members and guests in attendance, who then had the opportunity to assess the implication of the new models of leadership on business and to discuss the role of HR in creating the necessary space.

Evoking the Music of Innovation

Nick Udall, CEO nowhere

Nick Udall used the analogy of sound vibrations changing patterns when there is a shift in frequency to illustrate the shift that occurs when someone can do something they’ve never done before. Nick outlined his hypothesis by giving the audience a sense of himself and how his experiences and influences shaped his beliefs. He talked about real transformation as stepping over a subtle threshold. He explained why a transformation of leadership is needed now and described the creative states of being and subtle skills of leaders who have the voltage capacity to be larger than the biggest disturbances. Nick concluded his presentation by describing the practical things that become available to organizations when they step over the threshold – culture of innovation; creative teams; evocative leadership; breakthrough strategy; ecosystem innovation; leading the human dimension of change and transformation; next generation communication about outcome not message; and biological organizing structures.

Key Take-Aways

  • Creativity, Innovation
  • Do it differently
  • Adjusting frequency/energy of EEs
  • Losing one’s self
  • What don’t we know?
  • Awareness of threshold
  • Continuous questioning
  • More reflecting, less blaming
  • Giving up control
  • Getting culture, team and leadership to function
  • Differentiating between time and energy
  • Inspiring leaders to create space

Social Entrepreneurs & New Models of Leadership

Susanne Wittig, Director Ashoka Switzerland

Susanne Wittag addressed the new models of leadership from the viewpoint of Social Entrepreneurship. She explained what social benefit means and the vision of Ashoka as “Everyone a Changemaker World”. Susanne told the audience that few leaders making decisions is not working anymore and teams of teams where all members are players who contribute to pattern change. She described how collaboration between business and citizen sectors can create economic value and lasting social impact.

Phillip Boehringer followed with a presentation of Boehringer Ingelheim’s collaboration with Ashoka. He explained that combining business skills with social innovation provides new models to solve the problems of unaffordable heath care.

  • Social entrepreneur – needs social objective, long term benefit
  • Engage EE in social activities fosters change competency
  • Disrupt flow, reinvent
  • Get close to life
  • Emotional benefit
  • Stretching belief systems
  • Attraction & retention

How Can We Learn as Fast as the World Changes?

Karel Leeflang, Senior HR Director

Karel Leeflang shared his views on the current reality – financial and economic uncertainty, compliance, transparency, technology and generational issues. He told the audience there is a lack of trust and confidence in the ability of business to solve the world’s problems. He described current HR reality as excellent at managing administration and delivering standard services. With the big emerging themes of navigating complexity, finding the balance for sustainable innovation and the need to collaborate, there is tremendous opportunity for HR to play an integral role in business leadership. He told the audience HR has an enormous role to play to stimulate and encourage change.

Key Take-Aways

  • Innovation
  • Collaboration
  • Trial & error – accepting people making mistakes
  • HR – where to gain those competencies
  • Openness and inclusiveness
  • Proactive
  • Sharing ideas
  • Review planned/current HR projects to become ready for the future
  • Top down model not working anymore

Bring Together Education + Business


Nicole Heim, CEO, Young Enterprise Switzerland

Nicole Heim walked the audience through how Corporate Volunteering and Entrepreneurship Education brings together education and business. She explained it’s all about giving young people responsibility and giving employers the opportunity to interact with the next generation.

The mission of Young Enterprise Switzerland (YES) is to invest in practice oriented economic education programs for middle school students with the aim to connect the economy with schools. Young entrepreneurs are inspired to achieve top performances in order to boost the power of innovation and
competition in Switzerland. A primary goal is to give students experience. It also gives them the possibility for interaction among students from other schools. YES programs support teachers preparing the next generation for the business world.

A presentation by students gave the audience an opportunity to see YES in action.

Speaker Profiles

Text by Mary Bronson/IHRC Support Team
Photos by Julie Collins Photographie
, http://www.juliecollins.net/