Tuesday, September 28, 2010

IMD Business Forum Edinburgh - Leadership: How much Energy and Influence do you really have?

On September 7th 2010, IMD and the IMD Alumni club of Scotland organised a business forum in Edinburgh. IMD Professor Preston Bottger led the discussion.

The event was graciously hosted by the Heriot Watt University and Phil McNaull, Director of Finance from Heriot Watt University opened the event by greeting the many participants from all areas of business.
He also said a few words about the Heriot Watt University and some of the pioneering initiatives it is undertaking in the area of distance learning in particular.

Jenny Campbell, IMD Scottish Alumni Club President thanked the host and presented the different activities and upcoming events of the club. She invited all those present, whether alumni or not, to join future events. (For those interested, please contact Jenny directly at email: jenny.campbell@lifetimeswork.com or phone: 0044 (0)131 332 7512).

IMD Director, Lynn Verdina-Henchoz, then warmly thanked the partners of the event and introduced Professor Preston Bottger and the topic of the evening. Preston Bottger has had a career spanning 30 years in 3 different continents - Australia (his native country), the US (where he taught at Duke University) and Europe. At IMD for the past 12 years, he is a professor of Leadership and Management Development and teaches on key open enrolment programs as well as in a number of in-company customized programs. His experience ranges across many sectors and geographies. He is the author of numerous research articles in international journals on the topics of problem solving in groups, leadership and motivation and is the lead author of Managing People. His most recent book is "Leading in the Top Team".

Over the past couple of years, business leaders have been stretched and challenged to an extent that many individuals have found hard to manage. At its core, the essential purpose and result of business leadership is the creation of wealth - economic and social. However, many leaders have found it increasingly difficult to align business needs with their personal values. Many have been doing this work for some years or decades and are unsure of how to keep their own mode of leadership up-to-date, including having the energy to continue doing the job over several decades.
Preston Bottger led a very interesting and interactive discussion with the audience on the above topic.

Many subjects were raised, including business and leadership ethics and work-life balance. For example, at one stage he asked participants to reflect on the following: "It is the morning of your 70th birthday. How has the journey been - and what is your assessment of what you have accomplished?" To be in a position to answer yes, there will be many times when we will have to make difficult choices about what is truly in our own interests. It is simply not possible to do the hard work of leading others, unless we ensure our now well-being. We need to be sure that we will continue to have the energy - emotional, physical and intellectual - to stay at the top.

The question of power was also raised, and this triggered a wider discussion on a variety of topics. Preston's point was that the abilities to gain and maintain positions of power are essential for effective leadership. But this requirement is often rejected by those with idealist views. This is a great loss because we need more leaders who can uphold key humanistic principles, and who better to do that than natural idealists?
Preston finished with a grin: "Idealists, toughen up!"

The evening ended with a pleasant cocktail organised by Heriot Watt University where the discussions continued.

As one participant later wrote to Lynn the next day: "I found Preston to be a thought-provoking speaker and found myself considering leadership in a wider context."

Click here to access presentation.

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