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  • Translator: Leslie Gauthier Reviewer: Krystian Aparta

  • Bryn Freedman: So you keep talking about leadership

  • as a real crisis of conformity.

  • Can you explain to us what you mean by that?

  • What do you see as a crisis of conformity?

  • Hallamasdóttir: I think it's a crisis of conformity

  • when we continue to do business and lead in the way we always have,

  • yet the evidence is overwhelming

  • that the world needs us to change our ways.

  • So let's look a little bit at that evidence.

  • Science has told us that we're facing a climate crisis,

  • yet 40 percent of board directors

  • don't think climate belongs in the boardroom.

  • And we have kids marching in the streets now,

  • asking us to be accountable for their future.

  • We have a crisis of inequality.

  • We have Yellow Jackets not just in the streets of France,

  • but all over the world,

  • and yet we continue to see examples

  • of businesses and other leaders fueling that anger.

  • BF: Do you think the pitchforks are coming?

  • HT: I definitely think this is not sustainable.

  • And the reason why it's so difficult

  • for us to deal with these complicated crises that are interrelated

  • is that we are at the lowest levels of trust we've ever been at.

  • In the UK, three percent of people trust their government

  • to solve the Brexit crisis,

  • and that was in December.

  • I think it's probably gone down since then.

  • BF: What do you think new leadership actually looks like?

  • HT: We need courageous leaders,

  • yet they have to be humble.

  • And they have to be guided by a moral compass,

  • and the moral compass is the combination of having a social purpose --

  • you can't have your license to operate anymore

  • without a purpose that contributes to society,

  • but what, to me, has been missing from that dialogue is a set of principles.

  • We cannot just define why we exist,

  • we have to define how we're going to do business

  • and how we're going to lead.

  • And to us, that has to be to solve these imminent crises:

  • the climate crisis,

  • the crisis of inequality

  • and the crisis of trust.

  • So at The B Team,

  • we embrace sustainability, equality and accountability as our principles.

  • BF: Do you think this whole question of purpose is really window dressing --

  • they're saying what they think people want to hear,

  • but they're actually not making the fundamental changes

  • that are necessary?

  • HT: A lot of people feel that way,

  • and I think there's a growing momentum behind that.

  • So I think the world is calling for responsible leadership now,

  • and any leader who wants to be around for the 21st century

  • really needs to start thinking courageously and holistically

  • how they're going to be part of the solution

  • and not window-dress anymore.

  • You have to do it for real now.

  • BF: Do you see anybody out there who's doing it

  • in a way that you think is actually effective

  • and has a real, long-term impact?

  • HT: Fortunately, we have some great leaders out there.

  • And just to give one example,

  • Emmanuel Faber, who's one of the newest members of The B Team,

  • he's the CEO of Danone,

  • the world's largest yogurt-maker and major food company --

  • a real global company.

  • He's so committed to sustainability

  • that he's not only changing the ways of his own business,

  • but his entire supply chain.

  • He's so committed to equality that when he took on as CEO

  • and he said gender balance matters,

  • he created a gender-balanced executive team

  • and gave men and women equal maternity and paternity leave.

  • He's so committed to accountability

  • that he turned his US operations into a B Corporation.

  • Now many of you may not know what that is,

  • but that's a company that holds itself responsible

  • for not just profit but its impact on people and the planet,

  • and transparently reports on their performance on all of that.

  • It's the largest B Corp in the world.

  • So to me, that's holistic, courageous leadership,

  • and it's really the vision we all need to hold.

  • BF: Is this "Back to the Future"?

  • I mean, I wonder, when I think about companies --

  • Anheuser-Busch comes to mind in America --

  • a 100-year-old company that invested in its community,

  • that gave a living wage

  • before it ended up, you know, losing and getting sold.

  • Are we really looking now for companies that are global and community citizens,

  • or is that something that is not even useful anymore?

  • HT: Well, you can do this for the reason that it's risky, actually,

  • to continue without doing the right thing now.

  • You can't attract the right talent,

  • you can't attract customers

  • and increasingly, you won't be able to attract capital.

  • You might do it for risk reasons,

  • you might do it for business opportunity reasons,

  • because this is where the growth is,

  • which is why many leaders are doing the right thing.

  • But at the end of the day,

  • we need to ask ourselves:

  • "Who are we holding ourselves accountable for?"

  • And if that isn't the next generation,

  • I don't know who.

  • So I want to just make very clear,

  • because we tend to think about leadership

  • as only those who sit in positions of power.

  • To me, leadership is not at all like that.

  • There's a leader inside every single one of us,

  • and our most important work in life is to release that leader.

  • And I think one of the greatest global examples we have

  • of someone who didn't --

  • no one gave her power --

  • is the 16-year-old girl called Greta Thunberg.

  • She's from Sweden,

  • and a few years ago, she really became --

  • she has Asperger's,

  • and she became passionate about our climate crisis --

  • learned everything about it.

  • And faced with the evidence,

  • she just felt so disappointed in her leadership

  • that she started striking in front of the Swedish parliament.

  • And now she has started a global movement,

  • and hundreds and thousands of school kids are out in the streets

  • asking us to hold ourselves accountable for their future.

  • No one gave her that authority,

  • and she now speaks to the leaders of the world, heads of state,

  • and really is impacting the world.

  • So I really think that when we think about leadership today,

  • it can't be defined to those in positions of power

  • though they have disproportionately greater responsibility.

  • But all of us need to think about,

  • "What am I doing?"

  • "How am I contributing?"

  • And we need to release that leader inside

  • and actually start making the positive impact

  • this world is calling for right now.

  • BF: But we have such hierarchical leadership.

  • I mean, I understand what you're saying --

  • it's nice to release the leader inside --

  • but in these corporations,

  • the truth is, it's extremely hierarchical.

  • What can companies do

  • to create less vertical and more horizontal relationships?

  • HT: Well, I'm a big believer and I've long been passionate

  • about closing the gender gap,

  • and I really believe gender-balanced leadership is the way to go

  • in order to embrace a leadership style that has been shown to be more powerful,

  • and that's when both men and women embrace

  • both masculine and feminine values.

  • It actually is proven in research

  • that that's the most effective leadership style.

  • But I'm increasingly now thinking about how we close the generational gap,

  • because look at these young children in the streets around the world --

  • they're asking us to lead.

  • Kofi Annan used to say, "You're never too young to lead."

  • And then he would add,

  • "Or too old to learn."

  • And I think we have now entered this era

  • where we need the wisdom of those with experience,

  • but we need the digital natives of the young generation

  • to co-mentor or to mentor us just as much as we can help

  • with wisdom from the older people.

  • So it's a new reality,

  • and these old, sort of hierarchical ways to think about things,

  • they're increasingly coming under pressure in this reality.

  • BF: And you've actually called that the hubris syndrome.

  • Can you talk about that?

  • HT: Well, yes, I think hubris is our cancer in leadership.

  • That's when leaders think they know it all,

  • can do it all, have all the answers

  • and don't think they need to surround themselves

  • with people who will make them better,

  • which to me would, in some cases, be more women and younger people

  • and people who are diverse and have different opinions in general.

  • Hubris syndrome is so present in leadership still,

  • and we know many examples of them,

  • I don't need to name them. And the problem with that --

  • (Laughter)

  • Yeah, we know them -- all over the world,

  • not just in this country.

  • But that kind of leadership doesn't unleash leaders in others.

  • No one person,

  • or no one sector even has the solutions we now need to come up with --

  • the creativity and collaboration we need.

  • The bold and the brave leadership we need to come up with solutions

  • that cross government, private sector, civil society, young people, older people,

  • people of all different backgrounds coming together is the way

  • to solve the issues that are in front of us.

  • BF: Do you see that kind of leadership coming from the bottom-up

  • or the top-down,

  • or do you think a crisis is going to force us

  • into a reexamination of all of this?

  • HT: Well, as someone who lived through the most infamous financial meltdown

  • in my home country, Iceland,

  • I hope we don't need another one to learn or to wake up.

  • But I do see that we can't choose one or the other.

  • We do have to transform the way we lead --

  • from the top, the boardroom, the CEOs --

  • we really do have to transform that,

  • but increasingly, we will transform that,

  • because we have these social movements coming from the bottom

  • and throughout society.

  • And the solutions exist.

  • The only thing that's missing is will.

  • So if we just all find a way to embrace a moral compass of our own

  • to figure out why we exist and how we're going to lead,

  • and if we embrace courage and humility in equal amounts,

  • each one of us can be part of this 10-year period

  • where we can dramatically transform the world we live in,

  • and make it just,

  • and make it about humanity and not just the financial markets.

  • BF: Well, we have a lot of people here who I bet have questions for you,

  • and we have a few minutes for questions,

  • so is there anybody that would like to ask Halla a question?

  • Audience: Hello, my name is Cheryl.

  • I'm an aspiring leader,

  • and I have a question about how you lead when you have no influence.

  • If I'm just an analyst,

  • and I want to speak to senior management

  • about a change that I feel will affect the whole company,

  • how do I go about changing their minds

  • when they feel as if they've had relationships that are set,

  • that their way of business is set?

  • How do you change minds when you have no influence?

  • HT: Well, thank you very much for that fantastic question.

  • So sometimes people at the top won't listen,

  • but it's interesting that with the low trust we have in society right now,

  • the greatest trust we have

  • is actually between the employee and the employer,

  • according to recent research.

  • So I think that relationship may be the most powerful way

  • to actually transform the way we do things.

  • So I would start by trying to build a coalition for your good idea.

  • And I don't know a single leader today who will not listen to a concern

  • that many of their employees hold.

  • I'll give you an example from another B Team leader,

  • Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce.

  • He's really been outspoken on homelessness in San Francisco,

  • on LGBTQI rights,

  • and all of the things that he's been standing up for,

  • he does because his employees care about them.