News Stories · Leadership

Supercharging innovation-led growth – powering your inclusive, diverse teams to greatness

June 2020
 - IMD Business School

Innovation starts with focusing on the data, and a diverse team must include cognitive variety, says Harriet Green in her OWP live keynote address.

The energy of Harriet Green will have ricocheted off listeners’ screens during her virtual keynote address at OWP live.

“We [leaders] are the center of this vortex of change. How we are, what we exude, what we put into ourselves, and our wellbeing will affect others. That is not ego, it’s about our ability to lead and inspire,” she said.

In her talk, “Supercharging innovation-led growth – powering your inclusive diverse teams to greatness”, Green, who is currently a Member of the Board both at EDB (Singapore Development Board) and King’s College London, said leaders must help drive a growth mindset through innovation.

“A fixed, non-growth mindset is about knowing it all. Instead, we must help our teams to learn and take advantage of this downturn.”

We are currently witnessing the combinational force of epoch-changing technologies combined with the trauma of a global pandemic that has forced us all to think and work differently said Green, who is also the former CEO and Chairman of IBM Asia Pacific.

Add to this a very strong reaction to a lack of fairness and an imbalance of privileges in many countries around world and you have the reasons why the way we work and treat each other is going to change “inexorably”.

But innovation in such times, she said, is not about old versus new. It is about earmarking the five biggest issues or growth opportunities that you have. To do so, “drill into the data, understand users and employees, and put your best people forward to create the drive to make new things.”

Turning the concept of “failing fast” on its head, Green posited: “How about improving fast?” To so do, and trump in the new normal, combine emotional intelligence (EQ), resilience, and grit and grace in dealing with people, she said.

On diverse teams, she said these were essential for creating effective solutions but was equally insistent on equal demographic representation as valuing different ways of thinking – cognitive diversity.

“The data is pretty proven that the boards that have greater diversity and think differently have stopped major catastrophes. If you get everyone together who goes to the same golf club or embrace herd mentality [to solve problems], you’ll move towards disaster,” she said.

She made clear that leadership comes with a responsibility towards your team’s wellbeing – which should involve a heavy dose of empathy – but also towards your own.

“You need to demonstrate to your teams that you’re really happy with who you are,” she said. If you’re not, do something about it and if you can’t, then you’re not fit to be a leader.

Click here to watch the full keynote live.