Developing Globally Responsible Leaders

Global Guidance Beyond the Law

Laws serve as the minimum standards for society, but responsible leadership requires that we go well beyond those minimum standards.

This post explores resources that help us understand (1) what it means to be a globally responsible leader and (2) what kinds of learning opportunities help leaders develop a global sense of responsibility.

Who is the Globally Responsible Leader?

Leaders build responsible cultures and companies through strong ethical values and their own daily responsible actions and choices.

As leaders, we will help shape the future of the businesses and societies we serve through our small actions and big decisions.

What if we’re not a leader in a global business? What if we’re part of a small, local company? In our complex connected society, we all need to be thinking about ethical issues beyond our customers, our employees, our communities and our profits.

What is globally responsible leadership and why does it need to be a business priority? If we did think beyond our geographical boundaries, what would that look like? How can we help develop the present and future generation of globally responsible leaders?

Today I share a collection of quotes from varied sources that describe the “thinking process” of a globally responsible leader.


“The globally responsible leader gets out of bed every day and goes to work energised by a sense of purpose. S/he has a strong enough sense of self not to subordinate personally important values but to impose those values on production.”

To Be a Responsible Leader by Grant Jones, GRLI Magazine, June 2011

Following Ethical Principles

“Guiding principles that establish a starting point for globally responsible leadership include: fairness; freedom; honesty; humanity; tolerance; transparency; responsibility and solidarity; and sustainability. These are not fixed ethical points but need to be constantly refined and developed.”

Globally Responsible Leadership: A Call for Engagement, An Invitation to Join the Founding Members of http://www.globallyresponsible, at

Societal Responsibility and Sustainability

“Corporate policy in its widest sense – that means including the ethics around bringing their products to the market – should set objectives that take the corporation’s societal (global) responsibility into account. That will be less complicated for the marketers of baby-food than for those trading arms; but both will have to do it.”

Global Responsibility,  The European Foundation for Management Development (

“It is no longer acceptable for a corporation to experience economic prosperity in isolation from those agents impacted by its actions. A firm must now focus its attention on both increasing its bottom line and being a good corporate citizen. Keeping abreast of global trends and remaining committed to financial obligations to deliver both private and public benefits have forced organizations to reshape their frameworks, rules, and business models.”

Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Business, by Amato, Henderson and Florence, Center for Creative Leadership

Creating a Globally Responsible Culture

“Create economic and societal progress in a globally responsible and sustainable way.”

The Globally Responsible Leader: A Call to Action, Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative,

“Leadership for global responsibility goes beyond setting a vision and goals. The central point is action to create alignment and to maintain commitment, such as: configuration of resources, development of supporting policies, implementation of globally responsible decision-making criteria, setting personal examples, stakeholder engagement and alliances, and development of a globally responsible mindset.”

Global Leadership Competence: A Cultural Intelligence Perspective, Chin and Gaynier at

How Can We Develop Responsible Global Leaders?

Embracing Complexity

“Multiple-perspective analysis helps students to understand the points of view of others who live in their community or across the world. Multiple-perspective analysis deals with difficult questions of power, money, resource distribution and conflict of interest. Such questions have complex answers.”

Exploring Sustainable Development: A Multiple-Perspective Approach UNESCo Education Sector

Seeing From Multiple Perspectives

“A multiple-perspective approach promotes interdisciplinary and intercultural competencies as it addresses challenges to local or planetary sustainability. Interdisciplinary thinking, in which concepts and knowledge from different academic traditions are used to analyze situations or solve problems, allows students to use knowledge in new and creative ways. ‘Intercultural dialogue contributes to sustainable development by facilitating knowledge exchange – traditional, local, and scientific. Through combining all these valuable forms of knowledge, more sustainable practices can be developed and better resolutions to current issues may be achieved’ (Tilbury & Mulà, 2009, p. 7).”

Exploring Sustainable Development: A Multi-Perspective Approach, United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005 – 2014),

Educating Responsibly

“But above and beyond these considerations, the developed world, its universities and its corporations must show in practice where the priorities lie. Foremost among them must be the need to bring global responsibility to the level of the individually educated person, which means committing the necessary resources to educating socially responsible citizens for a world desperately in need of them.”

Global Responsibility The European Foundation for Management Development,

“Principle 3 | Method: We will create educational frameworks, materials, processes and environments that enable effective learning experiences for responsible leadership.”

United Nations Principles of Responsible Management Education,

Leading Into the Future

Seeing issues and problems from multiple perspectives, and seeing ourselves as part of a global community will help us lead our businesses into the future. For anyone training, coaching, mentoring, teaching or simply setting a good example for other leaders in the organization, demonstrating globally responsible leadership should be a top priority.


For more, see new book 7 Lenses and the 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014 Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2012 Leading in Context LLC 


  1. Thanks so much Geoff. I have been inspired by how many leaders (like you!) are working for the kind of globally responsible leadership we need in the future. There is now momentum in the right direction – thanks for your part in it!


  2. An excellent article. We have some big issues that we are facing globally and it is up to each and every one of us to start and create a change. Change will come by working with key leaders in important areas and building a foundation for generations to come. If you are wanting to aggregate efforts to create change, please let me know


  3. The responsibilty is so much a voluntary acceptance of a person’s role in a given context.
    Obviously, the concept is far more complex and dynamic than the realms of structured discussions.
    This is why perhaps the wise men [Rishis] of Ancient India devised folk tale media like Ramayana, Mahabharat and Bhagvad Gita to cross the mental barrier of accepting the high sounding discourses of Veda(s).
    These aimed at sugar-coating the Resposnibilty As An Ideal rather than mere Call of duty.
    Howver, it is becoming more intriguing that increasing frontiers of coded knowledge is in fact shrinking the base of ideally charged responsible citizens and human-beings.


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