Leadership Notes #19
Two compelling authors write impressive books on the art of questioning---- a skill that will only become more essential as VUCA escalates.
The Book of Beautiful Questions: The Powerful Questions That Will Help You Decide, Create, Connect, and Lead, Warren Berger
Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling, by Edgar Schein
Interview: Simon Anholt and Madeline Hung
Simon Anholt is co-founder (with Madeline Hung) of the Good Country, a new country whose national interest is the international interest. Its citizens come from almost every country on earth. They also publish the Good Country Index, a survey that ranks countries on their contribution to humanity and the planet.
Anholt previously as worked as an advisor to the presidents, prime ministers and governments of 55 countries for over twenty years, helping them to engage more imaginatively and effectively with the international community. His TED talk launching the Good Country Index has received over five million views, and his more recent one launching the Global Vote, over one million. They are ranked by TED viewers among the six ‘most inspiring’ TED talks of all time.
Madeline Hung is a co-founder of the Good Country. Madeline’s previous work has focused on issues around business and human rights. She is an expert on multi-stakeholder initiatives, and has worked for multiple human rights organizations including Oxfam America and MSI Integrity, both in the United States and in Cameroon, Nigeria, and the Philippines. Madeline graduated with a B.A. in Social Studies from Harvard College where she was an Edmond J. Safra Ethics Fellow and also a Humanity In Action Senior Fellow.
Potolicchio: What’s the Good Country?
Anholt and Hung: The Good Country is a new virtual country that brings together people from all over the world to tackle the most pressing global challenges by creating and implementing policies that encourage more collaboration between countries. It is the first country created expressly for the benefit of all humanity and the whole planet: a self-organising system with no government and no territory. Its citizens pay annual taxes of just $5 so the Good Country can exercise a positive influence on the international community, and help the world work better. Our research shows that the Good Country has an immediate potential citizenship of 760 million people who already share its basic values: that makes it the third-largest country by population on earth.
Potolicchio: How can the Good Country Index practically improve global governance?
Anholt: It can’t, and isn’t designed to. The Good Country Index (published by the Good Country) is a modest provocation: it was designed purely to stimulate a debate about the international impact of countries, rather than their domestic performance. As such, it’s working beautifully: it generates those conversations every day, and they are noticeably proliferating.
Potolicchio: What is the Dual Mandate, and how does it work?
Anholt and Hung: Traditionally, people in positions of power and responsibility had a simple, single mandate: they were responsible for their own people and for their own slice of territory. In our age of massive interdependence, this is obviously disastrous. The Dual Mandate says that people in positions of power and authority are responsible for their own people and every man, woman, child and animal on the planet; that they are responsible for their own slice of territory and for every square inch of the earth’s surface, and the atmosphere above it. And if they don’t like that responsibility, they shouldn’t be allowed to hold power.
Potolicchio: Are you optimistic about the future of global governance in the face of rising nationalism?
Hung: Absolutely! On a basic level, the rise of nationalism represents a collective desire to change the conversation about global governance. And we agree that the conversation needs to change. Global governance since the founding of the United Nations has achieved a relatively stable, peaceful, and prosperous period for the planet. But its top-down, institution-based order is beginning to feel cumbersome, inefficient, and outdated. Rapid globalization over the past 100 years has brought many benefits, but has also been too often mishandled by governments, abused by corporations, and misconstrued by international institutions. We have an incredible opportunity, and responsibility, at this moment in history to write a new and better story of globalization that works for all of us. And that opportunity is exciting.
Potolicchio: If you had the chance to speak with a nationalist political leader over dinner, how would you frame the conversation to convince him/her to embrace a more global approach?
Anholt: Nationalism and internationalism are by no means incompatible. Everybody on earth has a slightly different balance between their concern for their immediate environment and their concern for the wider world, and we need both types of concern. I see no reason why these mindsets shouldn’t co-exist and indeed collaborate. Those who care primarily about their own country can simply feel glad that others prefer to focus on our shared future; those who care primarily about global challenges can simply feel glad that others prefer to focus on local issues. Both types should not just tolerate but respect and encourage each other for the importance of their views and the value of their work.
Potolicchio: What's a book you would have a young leader embarking on their career read?
Hung: Any history book. The best way to prepare for the future is to learn from the past. As young people, we should aim to advance the conversation, not reinvent it – and that starts with learning about what has come before.
Potolicchio: What's something seemingly small that can make an outsized difference in global governance?
Hung: Less talking, more listening.
Potolicchio: What's one thing every leader should do before they have a position of public trust?
Anholt: Live as an ordinary working citizen for at least a few months in at least three other countries, preferably as different as possible in terms of their size, culture and prosperity.