Developing Responsible Business Leaders

Senior executives need to have a nuanced understanding of the social and environmental forces shaping our world, and know how to respond for the good of their organisation and for society as a whole.

This has implications for what business leaders now spend their time doing and what they need to be good at, which in turn has implications for the leadership development processes that organisations need to adopt.

The Prince’s Seeing is Believing programme is widely regarded as a landmark example of how to help CEOs and senior leaders in organisations to engage with this aspect of their role, and has been a key driver of change over its long history.

This research project was motivated to learn from 23 years of delivering this programme in order to better embed this thinking in the next generation of business leaders.

What emerges from the in-depth interviews with nine Chief Executives is a picture of the personal leadership journeys that they have been on.

Their shifts were inspired by their early lives, early careers, first-hand experiences, and influential role models, as well as their Seeing is Believing experience.

The Seeing is Believing experience in particular provided a powerful vehicle for engaging them in the issues and committing them to action, by convening a credible and influential group of leaders, exposing them first-hand to the realities of people’s lives whilst simultaneously demonstrating the simplicity of the solutions, and by creating conditions that helped them prioritise action. As a result, our leaders were moved to stimulate cultural change in their organisations to develop a critical mass of individuals thinking and acting differently.

The learning from this project will help to fulfil the potential of experiential learning programmes like “The Prince’s Seeing is Believing programme”, working in partnership with business. The aim is to ensure the next generation of leaders are equipped to lead organisations that are sustainable in the long-term and put value creation for all at the core of what they do.