Political Leadership Goes WE

By Sabine Donner


How does the internet/new technology/social networks affect political leadership? How does it shape or change people’s expectations and attitudes towards political leadership? Are there innovative ways in which political leaders could react to this change? The answers to this questions could fill entire libraries. But why not ask the people directly affected – whether they be on the “receiving end” as citizens or on the “giving end” as politicians? We asked 5 people from 3 continents for their personal insights and their own perspectives (follow the link for detailed CV´s). What we got is a truly global snapshot. The people we’ve chosen are as diverse as they can be in terms of their personal and professional backgrounds. Every country has its unique set of problems and its own social and cultural context. One thing they have in common, though, is that they are all “Transformation Thinkers” – part of a global network of inspired young leaders with a strategic vision, people committed to driving their countries towards development, democracy, peace and security in a changing global and regional environment.

Despite all their differences and all the cultural and regional specifics, their answers show that they do indeed in many ways share a common perspective on the issue of political leadership. Their expectations are realistic, modest and huge at one and the same time. No one calls for a strong man (or strong woman!) to run the show alone. What is needed to tackle the complex problems of our times is a participatory, multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral approach, integrating personalities who set their own interests aside for the greater good, and who are able to reconcile rather than disrupt in order to get people involved. Political leadership today has to be team work. The internet has – to various degrees in every country – changed the rules of the game. Political leaders are expected to be innovative and open enough not only to react to these changes and play by these rules, but to expand them to a point where communication leads to action. Nothing more. Nothing less. Political leadership goes WE.


Sabine Donner is responsible for the project “Shaping Change – Strategies of Development and Transformation” at the Bertelsmann Stiftung. Sabine holds an M.A. in Political Science, German Literature and Russian Language and Literaturefrom the University of Freiburg. Prior to joining the Bertelsmann Stiftung in 2001, Sabine worked as a freelance journalist for several German newspapers and radio stations. She is one of the organizers of the Transformation Thinkers conference series.
Together with Hauke Hartmann and Matthias Jäger, she coordinates and publishes the Transformation Index (BTI), which offers data and detailed country reports on the quality of political transformation, economic development and governance in 128 countries.


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Sabine Donner asked the following 4 questions:

What constitutes good political leadership for you? What leadership skills are most needed to face the problems of our times?

Looking at the current situation in your country and the key challenges your country is facing, what role does political leadership play? Is it more part of the problem or part of the solution?

If you were elected president of your country, what are the three key strategic actions that you would take that would most accelerate your country’s transformation?

The way forward: what kind of political leadership would you like to see evolving in your country within the next five to ten years?




Who Is Leading WikiRevolutions?
(Don Tapscott)
A Wake-up Call For Despots (Lee Bryant)
You’ve Got To Be The Change You Want To See! (Ismael Khatib)



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