Responsive and Responsible Leadership


In addition to setting goals, I use the start of a new year to renew my commitment to education—my education—to advance my knowledge in areas that can benefit my work and my life, ultimately adding value to what I do for my clients.

One of the ways I do this is by following the World Economic Forum annual meeting in January. This year’s summit will focus on responsive and responsible leadership, a critical and timely topic for higher education as well as other sectors. I read articles nearly every day about how the roles and challenges of college presidents is changing, and the critical need for leaders to be prepared in new ways. Academic institutions, and organizations such as American Council on Education, Achieving the Dream, and the Aspen Institute, among others, provide content developed specifically for college leaders. My vantage point of working closely with college and university leaders as a member of their senior leadership team, and now advising them as a consultant and trusted colleague, allows me to see, first-hand, the value of responsive and responsible leadership.

At the start of the Forum, WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab published five leadership priorities for 2017:

  1. Fourth Industrial Revolution: we will increasingly see what used to be science fiction become reality
  2. Dynamic, inclusive multi-stakeholder global-governance systems: today’s economic, technological, environmental, and social challenges can be addressed only through global public-private collaboration
  3. Restore economic growth: 2017 will be a year in which social inclusion and youth unemployment become critical global and national issues
  4. Reform market capitalism and restore the compact between business and society: structural flaws have fueled the political backlash of recent years, in turn highlighting the need to create permanent structures for balancing economic incentives with social wellbeing
  5. Identity formation: globalization has made the world smaller but more complex, and many people have lost confidence in institutions

These priorities shape the agenda for the 2017 WEF annual meeting.

From the summit overview: “Responsive and Responsible Leadership requires recognizing that frustration and discontent are increasing in the segments of society that are not experiencing economic development and social progress. Their situation will only become more uncertain with the onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its impact on future employment. Responsive and Responsible Leadership therefore entails a deeper commitment to inclusive development and equitable growth, both nationally and globally. It also involves working rapidly to close generational divides by exercising shared stewardship of those systems that are critical to our prosperity. In the end, leaders from all walks of life at the Annual Meeting 2017 must be ready to react credibly and responsibly to societal and global concerns that have been neglected for too long.”

I look forward to following the discussions, papers, and reports coming out of the summit later this month and using it to inform my work with higher education leaders, institutions, and organizations.