Group of business leaders

John Mark Williams: Looking to the future of leadership

“It’s all very well saying what skills they need, but until we find out what the challenges are, there’s not much point in trying to identify the skills necessary to face them.”

That’s the view of John Mark Williams, Chief Executive of The Institute of Leadership Management, who will be speaking at PSE365’s virtual Learning & Development event on Wednesday 9 June.

A panellist of the first leaders’ debate: ‘What skills do Public Sector leaders need to face the challenges ahead? Mr Williams has a wealth of experience in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.

He previously worked for the Civil Service, where he was responsible for running the UK’s export operations in North-East England for over six years.

Having lived and worked in the UK, Europe, the Middle East and the Far East, Mr Williams’ career has mainly focussed on general international business and leadership and development.

He said that working overseas was a “great privilege” and gave him a “tremendous education”.

Mr Williams said that his PSE talk is going to look at the main challenges facing public sector leaders.

He said he will ask the question: ‘Are we sure that the skills that we think will be needed are looking forward rather than looking back?’

Commenting, he said: “We have a tendency as human beings to fight the last war.

“One of the things that the pandemic has shown us is that things can change radically and rapidly. So the skills that will be needed in the future are those that can cope with rapid change.”

Mr Williams said that looking to the future and predicting what is coming next is a vital part of leadership, saying:

“We just need to be able to look far enough in the future to have some idea of what is coming next, so that we can prepare ourselves for what is coming.”

As well as this, he said that experience is vital for leadership, saying: “It means that the widest range of experiences that is practicable will help us to become better leaders.

“The more different situations we are in, the more we become familiar with uncertainty and ambiguity.”

He joined The Institute of Leadership Management in September 2020 and believes that not one organisation, country or society has all the answers to the challenges that the world faces.

Mr Williams said that the organisation is trying to create a global leadership community, with the mantra of ‘we are what we share’.

“The solutions to our problems are within the community itself and the institute is trying to bring together that global leadership community to help us share the solutions to what we all face,” he said.


Listen to John and a host of other expert speakers at our PSE365 ‘Learning & Development’ virtual event on 9 June 2021. Register to attend here.

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