The Outlook on the Global Agenda 2015 features an analysis of the Top 10 trends which will preoccupy our experts for the next 12-18 months as well as the key challenges facing the world’s regions, an overview of global leadership and governance, and the emerging issues that will define our future. A startling 86% of respondents to the Survey on the Global Agenda agree that we have a leadership crisis in the world today.

Every year the World Economic Forum taps into the knowledge, observations and experiences of its Global Agenda Council Members, asking them to identify the issues that they believe will have the biggest impact on the world over the coming 12 to 18 months. The resulting insights, gathered with the help of the Survey on the Global Agenda, ultimately generate the Top 10 Trends – a forecast of the social, economic and political flash points that reside on our collective horizon.

Third on the list is Lack of Leadership; rising security concerns around the world threaten the stability of states and their citizens. From renewed violence in Gaza to Russia’s intervention in the Ukraine and the rise of ISIS, geopolitical tensions have dominated headlines for much of 2014. Dedicated efforts are being taken to diffuse these conflicts, yet it seems all but certain that two related trends, ‘Rising geo-strategic competition’ and ‘Intensifying nationalism’, will continue to propel global concerns over the next 18 months.

The deeper you go into these endemic failures, the harder it is for anyone to emerge as a strong leader; one is forced to play the game the way it’s built – which is inevitably in the interest of the system, and rarely in the interest of the people. [emphasis added]  In many countries, the only people with the institutional power to break through are strong military leaders or radicals like Narendra Modi in India. Yet, given the rise of independent and social media, populations with democratic experience swiftly become disillusioned with the excesses of these military authorities.

what skills do our leaders need to win back the confidence of their populations? The Survey respondents identified several virtues: a global interdisciplinary perspective; long-term, empirical planning; strong communication skills; a prioritization of social justice and well-being over financial growth; empathy; courage; morality; and a collaborative nature.

  it’s not enough to simply be inspirational; the best leaders know they must mediate, listen and include the opinions of others before making a decision. Execution, team-building and delegation are key, as is the ability to remain positive in the face of adversity – the power of optimism is inspiring in itself.

Ultimately, these leadership qualities have to be cultivated. In the Survey, four out of the five regions prioritized training, coaching and mentoring as the best way to develop tomorrow’s leaders. There is a consensus that improved education of our polity will result in better leadership.

… we need to foster a culture where people see integrity and empathy as key character traits, where talent can rise up. Then the power of ordinary people will grow, great things will happen, and great leaders will emerge.

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