“We have become too disconnected. And this lack of connection is leaving us without meaning to guide us,” a CEO said to me recently. That observation really struck me because today, in many ways, we are more connected than ever before. Technology has given us access to nearly anyone, anywhere on the planet, at any time. During times of crisis, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, this constant connection can be comforting. During the height of the pandemic, we were able to get real-time access to critical information, have video calls with loved ones, and feel close to colleagues despite working remotely. However, an always-on culture and constant digital interaction can also leave people feeling emotionally drained. The screens between us can often act like walls, leading to a feeling of alienation.
In addition to this feeling of disconnect, today’s leaders face additional challenges, including digital transformation, sustainability, and an aging workforce in many parts of the world. Planning is tough in an unpredictable environment—not only is the global economy dipping and climbing like a rollercoaster, but geopolitical tensions are rattling the bolts that have held much of the world together. To respond successfully, leaders need an acute understanding of risk (including cyber), insight into how geopolitical tensions might play out, and the boldness to reshape business models—for example, by diversifying supply chains.
What is the answer to these challenges? As someone who has the privilege to work with the brightest and most experienced clients, candidates, and colleagues in the world, my answer is to connect. If we truly want to secure a future for this planet, we must find ways to be—and stay—connected.
These connections will be essential to address the scale and number of crises the world is facing. We cannot make change alone; but together solutions are possible. It is this sense of partnership and cooperation that energized me for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. This gathering of leaders brought the opportunity to connect and build new bridges: bridges to worlds we do not fully understand or whose values we may not share; bridges to sectors and stakeholders that are foreign to us, but with whom we can create something new and better.
There is an unmistakable power in human connection. When any of us are at our best, it’s because someone has walked with us along the way. If we continue to build bridges—both across industries and within our own organizations, we can move from promise to progress in addressing the critical challenges facing our world. Our Firm’s role in connection is bringing the right leaders into positions that enable them to drive sustainable change and make decisions with positive, lasting outcomes for us all. For us, this is the fulfillment of our purpose—leadership for a better world.