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From the Editor | Fall 2015


THE STATE OF LEADERSHIP has been under the microscope of late, and for good reason. Once again this year, the Edelman Trust Barometer demonstrated a serious crisis of confidence in leaders of both business and government.  The biggest declines were in Canada, Argentina, Germany, Australia and Singapore — all of which witnessed double-digit drops in trust.

By a two-to-one margin, respondents in all nations feel that developments in business are moving too fast, and that there is not adequate testing. Worse yet, 54 per cent said ‘business growth’ or ‘greed/money’ are the real impetuses behind innovation. That’s twice the number who said business innovates out of a desire to make the world a better place.

On the bright side, we are seeing the dawn of a new generation of business leader: one that is intent on creating value for society and for shareholders, simultaneously. These leaders — people like Paul Polman at Unilever and Jim Sinegal of Costco — exemplify the fact that business is not either a force for good or bad per se: it can be either — and much more. What makes the difference has something to do with the rules of the marketplace, an organization’s culture, and crucially, how it is led.

In this issue, we turn our attention to the skills and mindsets being exhibited by today’s most effective leaders and organizations. We kick the issue off on page 6 with The Thoughtful Leader, an excerpt from Vice Dean Emeritus Jim Fisher’s forthcoming book of the same title, where he integrates some classic leadership theories. Then, on page 18, Rotman’s Corus Chair in Communication Strategy, Dilip Soman, argues that the smartest leaders pay close attention to human behaviour at the point of decision making, in The Last Mile: Using Behavioural Insights to Create Value.

On page 24, we feature output from the Global Drucker Forum, an annual event held each fall in Peter Drucker’s homeland, where a panel including INSEAD’s Herminia Ibarra and Vineet Nayar discusses The Architecture of Management. And on page 50, Wharton Professor Stewart Friedman defines the attributes of ‘Total Leadership’ in his Portrait of a Leader: Sheryl Sandberg. Despite the May death of her beloved husband, Friedman leaves no doubt that Sandberg’s journey of leadership excellence will continue.

Elsewhere in this issue, MIT’s Peter Senge et al look at The Dawn of System Leadership on page 64; and we open our Idea Exchange with a moving essay about The Power of Optimism by Bill and Melinda Gates. This section also features interviews with Rotman School Dean Tiff Macklem (p. 90), IEX founder Brad Katsuyama (p.97), Millennial generation leader David Burstein (p. 107) and Rotman faculty members Richard Nesbitt (p. 105), Partha Mohanram (p. 114) and Mihnea Moldoveanu (p. 124).

The late-great Peter Drucker was one of the first to emphasize that management is about ‘doing things right’, while leadership is about ‘doing the right things’. As Richard Edelman recently said, “Business must embrace a new mantra: move beyond earning a License to Operate — the minimum required standard — towards earning a License to Lead, whereby business serves the needs of shareholders and broader stakeholders by being profitable and acting as a positive force in society.” That comes pretty close to our definition of leading-edge leadership.

Karen Christensen, Editor-in-Chief

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