In September 2018, LQ Founder Lindsay Levin spoke to Rebecca Sparks at The Daily Guru, an online learning platform for women who are exploring their professional and personal development.
During the interview with Rebecca, the conversation ranged widely: from Lindsay’s past as an entrepreneur, to her decision to found LQ to connect people, and the – always tricky – question of what a Quest programme actually entails!
Along the way, Lindsay threw light on some perennial questions. What makes Quests such a potent way of reaffirming personal purpose? What’s the secret to helping leaders grasp the opportunities offered by today’s disruptive forces? And how can every one of us avoid feeling depleted and be at our best – at work and at play?
See below for an edited excerpt and listen in full here as Lindsay and Rebecca discuss leadership, trends and embracing change.
Rebecca Sparks (RS): What’s the purpose of Leaders’ Quest?
Lindsay Levin (LL): In a nutshell, Leaders’ Quest is about connecting. It’s about enabling people to have connections, relationships, encounters that are inspiring, moving, thought-provoking. Sometimes they’re challenging; more often than not they’re uplifting and exciting. It’s about knowing one another and knowing the global village that we’re part of. And seeing ourselves differently, as a result.
A core element of our work might happen in a factory, tech park or laboratory. Or a homeless shelter, prison or hospital – or on the street. People meet and they realise that the gaps between us aren’t so large after all. In that sense, LQ’s work is about expanding our sense of empathy, our circle of compassion. It’s about saying to people in positions of leadership: "Tremendous opportunity comes with leadership, as does tremendous responsibility."
RS: What is involved in an LQ programme?
LL: We work in 25+ countries and we add a country or two every year. For example we run programmes in Kenya, China, Brazil, Britain, Germany, America, Indonesia and others. We have some programmes which we call Open Quests, where every participating leader comes from a different organisation. We deliberately make a really rich mix of people and an international mix.
Some programmes are tailored for companies. We have a lot of corporate clients for whom we work on equipping their leaders for a complex, fast-changing world. Both types of programmes have common elements: Quests are about life.
We spend time meeting entrepreneurs, innovators and businesses and looking at the economy and creativity. In equal measure, we spend time in communities, because it’s important to us to look at leadership in the round, and think about the societies in which we all live and work. In my experience, people learn most from being in a situation that is different from their own.
Themes are important. If we are doing a Quest in China we look at environment, social change, migration – large numbers moving to cities to look for jobs, extraordinary technology (in many cases ahead of the West right now). Depending where we are, we pick out the themes that can help us to go back to our own lives and work with new inspiration and new insight, really having expanded our sense of what’s possible.
RS: How is LQ going to shape our future and what impact will it have?
LL: At LQ, we want to keep working with companies. We deeply believe in business as a force for good. We’ve also expanded our work to think about issues like climate change, the environment, global food supply, how economics need to change, how economies need to look different in the future. What does a regenerative economy look like – 30, 40 years from now – where we live within the bounds of the planet and we are able to include all the people on the planet? That’s pretty daunting!
We want to step forward to help leaders who are committed to transformative change at scale. That means having the courage to talk about big subjects, and create the opportunity for people to think positively about them.
I don’t think these things are all doom and gloom. We already have many of the technologies and insights we need to live more sustainably, and to benefit many more people through the talent and wisdom we have on this planet.
LQ’s commitment is to be part of that journey. We all need to collaborate across industries, sectors and societies in ways we haven’t done before. That calls for different leadership skills and we are very thoughtful about this collaborative form of leadership. We want to be bold and open in saying we want to help being transformative and help to do that at scale.