Leadership Notes #7

Leadership Notes #7
In this edition: Andrey Sushentsov on leadership and Russian foreign policy, increasing creativity and improving the bottom line, and a deep dive on the 2016 U.S. elections.
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Video: Inside the American Election

Must Reads

1. Why using "filler words" may help you

2. The most important leadership skills

3. On the importance of cultivating follower skills

4. How to improve your networking

5. The benefits of having multiple careers

Great Books

6. How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Barrett

Barrett's paradigm changing theory posits that people play a much larger role in the development of emotions than previously believed. In defining what emotions are and why we have them, Barrett's radical research has implications for how we go about living our lives.

7. Art Thinking: How to Carve Out Creative Space in a World of Schedules, Budgets, and Bosses by Amy Whitaker

This practical guide to increasing our creative juices while simultaneously improving our bottom line, marries the mindsets of art and commerce to offer concrete steps to improving your future.

Interview: Andrey Sushentsov (Link)

Andrey Sushentsov is a program director at the Valdai Club and a chair of the “New Factors in Global Development and Future Challenges,” which produces research, events and publications on issues of modern warfare, geopolitics, technology, modern security threats and great power strategies in the 21st century. Sushentsov is a political analyst and international relations scholar at Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) and a managing partner with the Moscow-based consulting agency Foreign Policy Advisory Group, where he heads the strategic advisory practice. He has a degree in history from Lomonosov Moscow State University and a PhD in international relations from MGIMO-University. He is the author of America’s Small Wars and Essays on U.S. Politics and Regional Conflicts, both published in Russian in 2014, as well as articles and reports on U.S.-Russian relations and Russian policies toward Georgia and Ukraine. In his research, Sushentsov focuses on collision of U.S. and Russian interests in the Middle East and the post-soviet space, particularly in Ukraine and in the South Caucasus. In 2015, with co-author Andrey Bezrukov, he edited Contours of disturbing future: Russia and the World in 2020. In 2016, he edited Civilization Veiled as a Nation, a collection of essays on Russia’s foreign and domestic politics. Sushentsov has been a visiting researcher at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins and has held visiting positions at several international institutions including Harvard and Yale. He is a member of International Studies Association and participating in a Working Group on the Future of U.S.-Russia Relations established by Higher School of Economics (Moscow) and Harvard University.

Read Andrey's full bio here.

Sam Potolicchio: What's a leadership quality needed for the future that is under-discussed?

Andrey Sushentsov: I think empathy is undervalued in our times. Leadership implies necessity for high achievements even through disruption of existing systems. But costs of such an approach are high, though not very visible in the beginning, and collateral damage can be significant. Being aware of how other participants – including adversaries – view the situation and what is their rationale, can help avoiding needless confrontation, save time and resources.  
Potolicchio: What's the best way to cultivate the skills of forecasting future trends?

Sushentsov: Intellectual curiosity, persistence and the love of life will help discover how the world works. Get systemic education in history, learn to connect causes to consequences, then apply it to contemporary events. Travel a lot, be attentive, make practical observations and read always – and natural laws of nation’s rise and fall will come to you. You will be surprised by how the future rhymes with the past.
Potolicchio: What recommendations would you have for curriculum (both school and university) innovations to prepare aspiring leaders for public leadership roles in 2030?

Sushentsov: Choose two-three comprehensive classes of synchronized history of major world civilizations – the West, the Middle East, South and East Asia. Connecting dots and learning the casual effects in world history will immensely improve your understanding of human nature and natural laws of power relations and development. In the end, you will train your mind to find solutions to complicated social matters in an uncertain environment – thanks to Ceasar’s war in Gallia and Zheng He enterprise to cross the Indian Ocean.
Potolicchio: What do many analysts get wrong about Russian foreign policy?

Sushentsov: Russia has a specific foreign policy tradition distinct from a general Western experience. It is non-ideological, largely pragmatic, empathetical and oriented at stability rather than disruption. This foreign policy was formed by Russia’s geography, identity and its historical experience – all of which deserve close study and attention. Since there is very little understating, Russia is routinely vilified – for no exact purpose.  
Potolicchio: Why should a geopolitical analyst spend time in Russia?

Sushentsov: To learn how a vast and fragile territorial body for centuries and against all odds maintain itself as a leading power in a very stressful environment. Russia’s experience of multiculturalism if also worth studying. In short – Russia is a tale of human endurance and love of life in the most challenging setting. 

Check out Andrey's take on pressing international issues: war in Syria, Russia's strategy, future of war, and the Ukraine crisis.

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