Leadership for the greater good: Brilliant women collaborating for a sustainable world

I’ll start this blog with what may seem an arrogant summary of my current ability, but it is not intended as such. (Read on to understand why I am saying this).

  1. I’m a leadership expert. I really am; 30 years obsessed with the topic, thousands of leaders supported individually and collectively. I’ve run leadership programs, coached leaders at all levels, spoken on stage, been a media commentator on the topic, written books about it, and interviewed those who are led to see what they think. 

  2. I am a diagnostic specialist; with around 30 different accreditations. I reckon that 10-15 minutes into a conversation with a leader, I will have a reasonable understanding of their preferences, style, values, focus, issues, sense of purpose, motivation, capabilities, style of communication, etc. This is not absolute, or even 80% accurate, but it’s well over the 50% mark. 

  3. I am an expert on culture and climate (and understand the difference between the two). I’m not the specialising mind that creates the instruments, but I understand the interpretation and application better than many. 

  4. I understand the social awareness gap of senior leaders; how they so often find themselves removed from their people, over-focus on tasks at the expense of engagement, become increasingly competitive, tough, argumentative, isolated, and self reinforcing in what they hold is the ‘right way.’ 

  5. I understand at an incredibly deep level the issues, frustrations, hopes, challenges, gaps, opportunities, and needs of people who work. I also understand the profound gap between what will create genuinely exceptional performance and what we actually create as leaders in the culture of our many organisations, through our own behaviour (individually and collectively).

I am NOT always brilliant at facilitating or changing what I can see needs to change. I am incredibly effective with some, and likely disengaging with others, who may find me confronting (though never my intention) or too radical in my thinking (a measure of what I see is possible versus what the organisation and its leaders might be ready for).

With those who are open, collaborative, curious, clever, committed to leading for the greater good, and open to giving/receiving feedback… I am a genuine catalyst for what they want in the world. Not the only one, not the best one, but still, very effective. Is it me, or them, or both? If people are willing, I can help them get to this space, faster than many.

This is not an ad for a job, it is a comment both on my own strengths and limitations, and the challenge of leadership in our world today.

Swinburne University's study, ‘Leadership for the greater good’, determines that trust in corporate leadership is sitting at around 26% - people believe we are self interested, short term in our thinking, and not taking the interests of the people into account. We are NOT leading for the greater good.

In fact, we have a leadership crisis. And our planet, our species, will pay a terrible price for this if we aren't honest with ourselves right now. If perception is 'truth', then IF you call yourself a leader (and I do), you can no longer afford to not pay attention to what others think about us and why.

And so, to Homeward Bound (www.homewardboundprojects.com.au, www.facebook.com/homewardboundprojects).

This is a Dattner Grant sponsored initiative. It came from a dream I had. Jim Grant, my business partner, is 100% behind it.


Simply put: Homeward Bound is a 10-year outreach initiative to build a global collaboration of 1000 women with a science background. These are women who have access to the same transformational leadership insights, are informed by the world's best science on the state of our planet, are shown the world's best intelligence on strategic planning, measurement and execution AND THEN let lose in the world. They do this in teams and as individuals to influence policy and decision making towards a sustainable planet.


All of this is framed by a yearly expedition to Antarctica, starting December 2016.


What we are discovering as we work around the world together is that:


  1. Leadership for the greater good is a massive motivator for change
  2. Clever women, with this focus, are capable of achieving extraordinary outcomes
  3. Collaboration is a phenomenal experience when you have a categorically clear purpose, and a shared passion for it's achievement
  4. Autonomy is crucial for clever people who share a common purpose
  5. The function of leadership is to keep everyone's eyes on the prize AND to get out of the way of innovation and action
  6. Agility (a buzz word) emerges in this space at an electrifying speed
  7. The right online tools make life materially easier (88 women spread around the world, talking constantly, working on 10 projects)
  8. Hierarchy evaporates - or moves too quickly to carry inappropriate power or influence
  9. Fun emerges because everyone is part of something bigger than the self

10.  Dare I say it, love emerges, because we are caring for our 'home' on a scale that we had not imagined was possible (a powerful focus for nearly 90 women)


I plan to write blogs weekly now, on the lessons of Homeward Bound. Please join the Homeward Bound Facebook page; comment, share ideas, watch the journey AND, if you have a science degree and think you fit the intended purpose, get ready to pitch in your application for the 2017 program.


My lesson in this, as an expert? That IF you put the right mix together - genuine curiosity, shared purpose, leadership for the greater good, deep level self awareness, clever people, freedom, and the right tools, miracles are absolutely an every day possibility. I learn that my individual flaws are ameliorated by the group's ability/cleverness/passion for the cause. I learn every day that if I help keep people focused on the vision, if I respect people's ability and give them freedom to act, they do so with a commitment and energy no possible reward or recognition program could generate.


I am beyond grateful for this opportunity, at this time in my life.

    Written by Fabian Dattner, Partner Dattner Grant


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