Ben Buckton, group chief operating officer at Ampa, who is attending Anthropy 23, explores the evolving landscape of leadership and what it means to be successful in today’s world.
In a world that is constantly evolving, so too must our approaches to leadership.
As we look around at the leaders in and out of our country, and within and across our organisations, it is hard to ignore the overwhelming similarities and conformity.
To truly evolve as leaders, we need to change the game. We need diverse voices, perspectives, experiences, and faces at the forefront of organisations and institutions – advising them, guiding them, and leading them!
Leadership isn’t just about carrying the burden of accountability and weight of expectation. It’s about shining a light that guides and shapes others, creates followership, and ultimately helps to make collective impact.
To inspire those diverse voices to grow, develop, and become leaders, they must feel seen, and be included, involved, and heard. As someone wise once said: “You have to see it to be it”.
Inclusion is not exclusion
Inclusion for all doesn’t mean exclusion for others. The goal is not to take opportunities away from any group, especially not those who have invertedly benefited from privilege, but to ensure equitable opportunities for everyone.
Ultimately, we need to create more opportunities, rather than take some away. It’s not a zero-sum game – we all benefit when we raise the ceiling and the floor simultaneously – allowing everyone to fulfil their dreams, unlock their potential and in many cases achieve social mobility. As Michelle Obama famously said, so all can “become”.
The courage to lead with compassion
Becoming a better leader requires a deep understanding of your values, your ‘North Star’. Simon Sinek famously encourages us all to understand our “why” – because as we articulate our drivers, we get a better sense of the impact we want to make in the world. That, in turn, helps us understand as leaders the types of cultures and environments we want to build, develop, or join. And how that aligns to our life goals and aspirations. Answering the key question for ourselves – what are the places and spaces where you will best thrive?
Being a purpose-led leader doesn’t mean shying away or avoiding the challenging commercial decisions. It’s about implementing those tough calls with compassion and a human-centred approach. Just because a decision is challenging and may impact people, it doesn’t mean your leadership style has to be callous, cold, or lack compassion.
In today’s increasingly polarised world, playing it safe and trying to please everyone can lead to superficial leadership. It’s impossible to be all things to all people and will limit the growth mindset that all forms of organisations need, if they want to achieve their visions and the impacts they can have.
Progress can only happen when we move forward together – as the African proverb goes “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. True impact comes from being brave, taking a position, and finding your tribe – those like-minded collaborators who share your vision and can help create the gravity needed for success. As commercially-minded organisations, we must constantly balance our decision-making – taking account to the triple bottom line of social, environmental and economic impact.
Overall, the changing face of business leadership demands vision – with authenticity, inclusivity, and courage. It’s about embracing diversity, leading with compassion, and making a meaningful mark on your organisation and the wider world in which we all operate.
As leaders, let’s not be afraid to change the game and inspire those around us to “become” their best selves.