CEO Today - January 2023

Societal change requires staunch commitment backed by action The subject of Diversity and Inclusion has been raised at almost every game of the World Cup. Before the tournament began, Qatar’s women and LGBT human rights record had been called into question. Similarly, many pundits’ decisions to commentate and host the TV coverage has also been subject to criticism. We also saw a number of teams including England and Wales told not to wear the pro-LGBT OneLove Armband during games after FIFA threatened sporting sanctions. However, throughout the tournament, we have also seen a number of individual protests. Ex-England International Alex Scott wore the OneLove Armband during her live BBC commentary and the German team protested FIFA’s armband sanctions by posing for their team photo with their hands over their mouths. Similarly, the Iranian team showed their support for antigovernment protests in their country by refusing to sing the national anthem in their opening encounter. England have also continued to take the knee before their games. These individual actions are important to progress. But they need to be supported by wider institutional, systemic and global change to have a real impact on policy and our day-to-day lives. No business can say they embrace diversity if they are willing to drop their values in the face of challenge. Taking a stance requires renewed commitment. Not just from individual employees, but meaningful actions right from the very top. Business leaders and their institutions can — and should — play a meaningful role. Poor leadership needs dismantling Unfortunately, elite sport is often a place to look for poor leadership and governance practices. The corruption that reigned at the heart of FIFA has been widely-documented. In 2015, more than 24 officials and associates all the way up to highest management were implicated in a 24-year self-enrichment scheme said to involve bribery and corruption. The serious question marks over the legitimacy of Qatar holding the tournament have continued throughout the event. When leaders’ missions and incentives are not aligned with those of stakeholders’, things go awry. But leadership structures are rarely designed to self-correct. Those in charge often talk a good game. But more often than not, impactful change does not follow. Pressure from outside and inside needs to be applied if dysfunctional leadership structures are to be dismantled. “ Use diversity and mentoring to build success Performing on a global stage like the World Cup would be daunting for any seasoned professional. Imagine what it must be like for players who are still in the early stages of their career. Germany’s Youssoufa Moukoko is the youngest player in the 2022 tournament. He had just turned 18 when he played against Japan. This places a key responsibility on the more experienced squad members to step up in amentor role for their younger teammates. After England’s win over Senegal in the last 16, Captain Harry Kane said he felt like a “proud older brother” to the younger teammates and commented on the blend of youth and experience within the current England squad. World Cup success — and high performance in pressurised situations — is not all on technical skills. Much of the success comes from handling the intense pressure to perform at your peak in each game. The ‘been there and done that’ knowledge experienced players can offer is invaluable. They understand exactly what it feels like to be at your first World Cup or have the expectations of a country on your shoulders. Successful teams tend to build around a core of experience and youth. Businesses should too. Those who have been in the THE DISRUPTORS On the flip side of these unexpected wins, there is a top-rated teamwith high expectations that will feel like they let themselves, their fans and their country down. These feelings can quickly impede future success and personal progress too. 32

RkJQdWJsaXNoZXIy Mjk3Mzkz