Lynda Gratton is Professor of Management Practice at London Business School and is the founder of the Hot Spots Movement. She has written seven books and numerous academic articles and is considered one of the world’s authorities on people in organizations.
In 2011 she has been ranked by The Times as one of the top 15 Business Thinkers in the world today and in 2008 The Financial Times selected her as the business thinker most likely to make a real difference over the next decade. She was also in the top two of the Human Resources Magazine’s “HR Top 100: Most Influential” poll, and this year Lynda was number one of Human Resources Magazine’s “Top 25 HR Most Influential UK Thinkers 2011” poll.
We may be happy to eat the food that multinationals make, and fly in their aircraft, and even take the pills they have invented. But many of us say we don’t trust corporations, and we don’t trust the people who lead them. Some are even willing to go out onto the streets to make this clear. It seems to me that now is the time for corporations and their leaders to be more explicit and transparent about their purpose and goals.
To do this, corporations have to address three questions: how is leadership ensuring there is sufficient inner resilience to take the corporation through these turbulent times? What is the corporation doing to positively anchor itself in its neighborhood and supply chains? And what role is it playing in solving global challenges such as climate change, endemic youth unemployment, and inequality?
Some leaders are already stepping up. When Unilever’s CEO Paul Polman committed to significantly reducing the environmental footprint of his corporation, he was making a purposeful statement about climate change. When Danone’s CEO Franck Riboud committed over seventy million euros to the Danone.Communities project (www.danonecommunities.com), he was making a purposeful statement about the role of the corporation in society. When the CEOs of Indian IT giants Infosys, TCS and Wipro built a host of ways to educate Indian children, they were making a statement about their role in India.
These role models are crucial. We need to see more – and at scale!..