Global Leadership at the World Affairs Council: Lessons Learned

Global Leadership at the World Affairs Council: Lessons Learned

By Dr. Jan Lüdert

As CityU’s representative to the World Affairs Council (WAC) I connect the School of Applied Leadership’s academic work on global leadership through engaging leaders on pressing international issues.

From my involvement with WAC, I have had discussions on the status of US foreign policy with Dr. James M. Lindsay from the Council on Foreign Relations. A talk by Ambassador Wendy Sherman, who led the Iran nuclear deal negotiations, gave an outlook to nuclear nonproliferation. An off-the-record meeting with Ambassador of Estonia to the US, Honorable Jonathan Vseviov, offered perspectives on European security and insights on Estonia’s e-Governance initiatives. Most recently, I joined a talk on curbing nuclear proliferation with Ambassador Jospeph Yun, former US Special Representative for North Korea Policy and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Korea and Japan.

In this post, I want to share some leadership lessons learned from these conversations and since joining WAC’s wide-ranging and thought-provoking events.

Global challenges require personal leadership

A central theme emanating from conversations with these experts, policy makers, and senior diplomats is how to leverage leadership skills to tackle complex global issues. This is most evident in how they all approach leadership as an interactive process. In fact, it becomes clear through exchanges with them that leadership is not a linear one-way street, but rather a deliberative process of seeking to influence others, including adversaries, to align self-interests in the pursuit of common goals.

To be sure, while these leaders seek to address different policy issues, they all underscore that to affect global change depends on continuously building trusting relationships, communicating transparently yet decisively, while remaining sensitive to cultural factors through having embraced a habit of life-long learning and appreciation for perspective taking. To these individuals’, global challenges require more than political will or economic resources. In their quest for higher goals, ideals, and visions, these leaders emphasize the importance of a collaborative spirit and focus on personal growth.

As Ambassador Sherman put it in a recent interview when reflecting on how her personal story emboldened the choice of career:

“I began to understand what change was really about – that one had to take risks, take action – and one had to take action even if it was to your detriment because it was for the greater good.”

As I continue to work with our SAL graduate students, these types of leadership lessons continue to infuse our curriculum with practical real-world examples, critical for the next generation of global leaders. If you are interested in global leadership, you can explore City University of Seattle’s graduate leadership programs on the CityU website. Your Program. Your Way. Start Your Finish.

Dr. Jan Lüdert serves as Associate Program Director for the Leadership Training Programs in the School of Applied Leadership at City University of Seattle.