Elevating Political Leadership, Civic Discourse and Behavior

@ ILA Annual Global Conference “Leadership in Turbulent Times”

13 October 2017, Brussels. 15:00-16:30


In turbulent times it is important for leaders to be able to harness the energy that exist in them an in the people around them – and channel it to productive, achievable ends. To do this the best leaders must lead inclusively, with integrity/ethics, emotional intelligence, dignity and a spirit of service. They should also avoid adding their own anxiety to that which exists in their organizations and in the stakeholders they serve. They must act in ways to calm exaggerated fears and focus their organizations and constituents on achievable goals and an uplifting vision. This is particularly true for political leadership. Gender and cultural factors play into this. We will examine how leaders in different contexts have achieved this and how followers can help bring out the best in these leaders.

Presenters enjoy a relatively rare background of having worked with top political leaders and in diverse political settings. They will share their diverse experiences working with US-based political leaders, European Union (EU) institutions, the United Nations, Club de Madrid, Bhutanese government institutions, and private and non-governmental leaders in general. Presenters have trained senior staff and worked extensively these entities and their leaders.

Chair: Ira Chaleff, Best-seller Author & leading expert on Followership

Examples and good practices that have supported political leaders and their staff to help them keep perspective and effectiveness. Session leader will set the stage for the discussion by sharing the following:

  • Historic examples of leaders remaining calm and resolute in the face of existential threats.
  • The need for senior staff to know how to manage the political leader to conserve their energy, create inclusiveness to give voice to diverse perspectives, help them focus on critical issues and digest relevant information, brainstorm options, challenge unwise impulses, interpret their decisions and execute plans.
  • The simultaneous need to uphold core values and take an ethical stance if these are being violated in the name of political or business expediency.
  • How do they help the leader calm the anxieties of those counting on their leadership and mobilize the resources and hopefulness of the group (or nation) to do what is required to survive and thrive in turbulent times?


Claudia de Castro Caldeirinha, Director of RedScope Consulting, Senior Leadership Advisor

Increasingly and belatedly a significant percentage of senior leaders and their aides are women and ethnic minorities — handling constructively and inclusively this diversity is essential to overcome the many challenges of today’s volatile and complex world and re-set the needle into the “right direction”. Specific examples will illustrate this intervention, coming from Claudia’s international work with top political leaders, her extensive work on inclusivity, gender equity and leadership programs with middle and top leaders in Brussels and globally. Some points to be addressed:

  • What are the key leadership challenges and threats in today’s world and in Europe?
  • How can senior staff and leaders choose to develop an ethical, inclusive and emotionally intelligent leadership style while strategically responding to their multiple challenges?
    • How can the models of inclusive leadership and Emotional Intelligence (EI) contribute to developing the skills needed in turbulent times to find common ground, build alliances, reduce conflict and maximize collaboration?


Marta Martinelli, Head of EU External Policies, Open Society Fund

Experiences working related to work on gender, democratization, security governance, and development issues in Africa, notably working in volatile environments such as in Burundi and DRC. Marta will share her field experiences handling conflict and she will address the following questions:

  • What are the differences between working in the field and in power-capitals like Brussels, when it comes to conflict management in stressful situations?
  • What are the best strategies that can help leaders avoid their own anxieties, and potentially highjack an already stressful situation?
  • How can people lead productively in high-anxiety situations?
  • What can organizations create that fosters the prevention and management of potentially harming emotions?


Elzbieta Jablonska, Professor, Warsaw School of Economics

Elzbieta will show how public leadership serves the greater good in the small kingdom of Bhutan. Bhutan is a truly unique case in political science and is a challenge to the current political theory, as well as can add some new categories to the concept of democracy and public leadership. Perspectives will be shared with participants about responsive public leadership, gleaned from semi-structured interviews throughout Bhutan, analysis of public documents, and observations in the field from 2008 until 2016.  She will focus on aspects of the following points:

  • How could global and local challenges benefit from taking a closer look at Bhutan’s concept of public good – viewed as happiness?
  • The concept expressed by former Minister of Education in Bhutan: ‘What do the leaders owe to the people? And what do the people expect of their leaders?’
  • Connecting true public leaders with the soul of a country and its people.

The political, social, and economic uncertainties require political leaders to stay calm and communicate with a frustrated and apathetic public.