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Betsy Myers in Kuwait

The New Leadership Model

Kuwaiti business leaders, representatives of the public and private sectors, critical thinkers, academics and journalists gathered 8th December 2009 at an event that discussed the new paradigm of leadership. ‘Think big, act big,’ it turns out, is the mantra underlying the concept of new style of leadership and the crucible of leadership innovation. Betsy Myers, a senior advisor to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and a leadership expert presented her vision of leadership during the seminar titled ‘The New Leadership Model.’ The one-day forum, which was attended by business leaders, advisers, consultants and media was held at the JW Marriott Hotel in Kuwait City on 8th December 2009.

Myers, who has held executive leadership positions in the public sector for over two decades and a grand total of 25 years in the turf, admits that she has a “life-long curiosity about leadership.” Providing her own description of a leader, Myers says that “listening and saying thank you” are key to the new leadership paradigm – an argument culled from a long stint of experience.

In her words, leadership goes beyond one single national context. “Leadership is self-knowledge. It is not about having all the answers. It is about asking the questions,” she asserts. According to her, being authentic and being true to one’s self are pivotal for a leader – a concept that made her join the Obama campaign team. “Obama is truly authentic,” she said providing firsthand accounts on the ground of her work on the campaign trail.

Attending to her pivotal topic of what makes a good leader, she stressed that leaders are optimists who’bring energy to the organization.’ Taking the point further, she said that leaders have ‘a sense of curiosity’ and remain ‘student(s) of life.’

She also argued that working hard on your self-knowledge and challenging your personal assumptions are essential for a leader. Leaders challenge assumptions, she said. She further stressed that listening is ‘a critical skill’ and ‘leadership is a team sport.’

Grounding her argument on the lessons learned from the campaign trail and Obama’s leadership style, she argued that remaining true to yourself is critical to a leader. Working on the Obama campaign, she said,”was an opportunity for her to have a front-row seat and see a new type of leadership”.

During the forum, Myers outlined pivotal elements of respectful leadership and provided insights for leaders who want to improve both their personal and organizational success. The forum also dwelled on a toolkit that leaders could apply in thinking about and exploring their personal leadership efficiency.

Some Topics Discussed During the Seminar

  1. Myers gave insights from two decades of public leadership position where she had a front-row view of leaders in action including Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama.
  2. Why Leadership Matters – the history of leadership and why what worked in the past does not work today.
  3. A good leader is the one who understands himself and understands others.
  4. Leadership is about self knowledge and that is the cutting edge.
  5. Leadership is not about having all answers but it is about asking questions.
  6. Leadership matters and the art of listening and treating people as if they matter.
  7. They key to leadership and success is the ability to learn from each other.
  8. Women’s movement for equality.
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