The Responsible Leadership Issue

Could climate change threaten the future of global capitalism? New economic models and a renewed focus on responsible leadership are providing the basis for a sustainable future

In today’s complex, multi-connected world, leaders are charged with navigating an array of challenges. These can range from managing a more diverse and demanding workforce, to the disruption of business models and entire industries, to global challenges such as migration and climate change.

In this context, leaders are held to a greater standard of accountability than ever before. These are leaders who are required to be more considerate in their decision-making, and to think more deeply about the longer-term consequences of their decisions and actions on employees, businesses, communities, politics and the environment.

Developing responsible leaders for the 21st century means focusing on empowering critical thinking and awakening the urge to challenge the status quo.

Educators have a duty to help future managers understand biases, to respect the values of others and shine a light on the social and geopolitical impact of management in the wider, global context.

A key challenge will be to ensure that the positive impact of digital innovation is equitable and evenly distributed, as well as the adoption of a long-term view on profit generation, based on globally recognised frameworks such as the United Nations Social Development Goals.

At CEMS, we believe that creating such an awareness for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead of humanity must be an integral part of the learning journeys that we create for our talented and spirited graduates.

This issue is dedicated to those teachers, students, graduates and leaders who are pioneering new approaches to responsible leadership, delivering extraordinary impact through their teaching activities, their project work and their work within organisations and social entrepreneurship.

We explore emerging attitudes to leadership revealed by research, survey work and collaborative initiatives between industry and academia. We ask what students in the developed world don’t know about the strengths and opportunities in emerging markets – and it turns out there’s plenty. We look at a breadth of student-led projects that are delivering not only learning but extraordinary impact to local communities, NGO groups and even to those operating at the bases of the pyramid in rural Bangladesh. And we talk to a new generation of movers and shakers – individuals with the vision, the talent and the commitment to change the playing field in spaces as diverse as finance, online advertising, tech entrepreneurship and skills-driven social integration. Finally we assess the impact of some of our most ambitious CEMS initiative, including the UNFCCC international climate change simulation that drew hundreds of CEMSies to ESADE Business and Law School last spring. Welcoming those students to Barcelona, Chair of the CEMS Global Alliance Eugenia Bieto issued a challenge to us all: “let’s bring the problems that the world is facing into the classroom – and beyond it.”