Leadership training in times of crisis

December 2022

Sharing and cocreating knowledge about sustainable business development has been at the core of Enact for over 15 years. It is always humbling to work with the knowledgeable and driven business leaders we meet in trainings, in Sweden and beyond. Naturally, there is always more knowledge and experience among the participants compared to the few trainers.

Enact has the privilege to support the Swedish Institute with leadership programmes in sustainable business development and responsible leadership. Over the years we have met hundreds of ambitious business leaders from across northern and eastern Europe, Asia and Africa, but this year was different. This year the programme took place during extraordinary circumstances, with a war intensifying abruptly between application and programme start. The 2022 participants in the Swedish Institute Management Programme for northern and eastern Europe recently delivered excellent final presentations, including several participants in exile or from Ukraine.

Is it even possible to speak about sustainable business development while some of the participants’ life might be at risk? Is it meaningful at all to discuss the role of business in conflict and crisis when a war is ongoing? Will the group be able to concentrate? How “light” can you make the process leading and group development exercises while remaining respectful? We dwelled on these many more questions, consulting with the participants through it all.

After much consideration we designed a programme that included sessions that gave the opportunity to discuss how organisations are affected and how they can contribute to easing a humanitarian crisis. The participants have shared moving stories of teams that worked day and night to get colleagues to safety, to keep operations going to pay salaries and allowances for those who needed to flee, or had to stay. All were committed to leading sustainability change and ready to build back better. The participants told us that forwarding the sustainability agenda for business is more relevant than ever and they show us that a small group of committed people can do extraordinary things – sometimes driven by sadness, loss and anger, but often by hope, determination and with a smile to a colleague.

Collaborating with business leaders from northern and eastern Europe this year was more thought provoking and humbling than ever. The network of previous participants across Europe that mobilised immediately to support Ukraine further adds to the respect for the resilience, strength and determination among young business leaders. Thank you for letting us learn with you.

Please get in touch if you would like to reflect with us about learning processes and meaningful meetings, not that we have the answer, but we like to look for ways with others.