Signing off for 2016

Written by Neela B

That was 2016. How should we approach 2017?

A great deal happened in 2016 but I want to start with one slightly obscure event from September – the reporting in the journal ‘Nature’ of evidence that indigenous Australians are members of the most ancient human civilisation on Earth, dating back some 50,000 years. So, leaders have had a long time to learn how to make societies work. And, as a leadership coach and mentor, I had to ask myself: “how much have we learned since that first civilisation?”

Fast forward 50,000 years to 2016.

According to a report published by Oxfam in January of this year, just 62 people now own as much as the poorest half of the world’s population – a few individuals owning as much between them as the combined wealth of 3.6 billion other people. And that number of 62 is actually down from a figure of 388 in 2010.

Let’s look at another way of expressing this apparently increasing trend towards ever more extreme inequality. The richest 1% now has as much wealth as the rest of the world combined. But is it really a problem?

Well, whatever your political views, the Brexit vote in the UK and the election of Donald Trump in the US would seem to indicate that there is a massive disconnect between an elite – whether defined by wealth, education or influence – and those who feel their interests are simply not being represented. We are witnessing signs of the same right across Europe.

And if this is happening in the developed world, think about the implications of this level of inequality across the developing world where concerns are not simply about inequality within nations but between nations – and where there isn’t always a ballot box through which to express one’s frustrations.

One year on, 50,000 years on, where do we go from here?

Fundamentally, it’s about leadership. Leadership in every sphere. In politics, in business, in communities of every kind. And critically, at every level, leaders need to think big. I’m not suggesting they should take a 50,000-year perspective but they certainly need to rise above the day-to-day. They need to have a real sense of what they want to achieve and, perhaps more importantly, a real sense of why they want to achieve it. And they need to bring people with them. Not just the ones who agree with them. But the ones who don’t.

So, as we approach 2017, do I think the glass is half-full or half-empty? I’m an optimist. It’s half-full. But only half-full. And we all have a part to play – in fact, a big responsibility – to ensure that in the current uncertainties, in an increasingly globalised world, people are brought together not pushed further apart. Inclusion, not alienation, has to be the name of the game for all leaders in the coming year.

What will you be doing to ensure that you deliver the kind of leadership that the world so clearly needs? Personally, I have a variety of important events planned for 2017, including:

  • Women in Leadership Breakfast Salon – 5th April 2017
  • Millennials Breakfast Seminar – 6th June 2017
  • Women in Leadership Breakfast Salon – 15th November 2017

To find out more about any of the above, and to book your place, contact me at

But let’s look beyond 2017 for a moment. At times like this when we stop to reflect, by looking back and looking forwards, we are inevitably drawn to the fact that the future will be in the hands of those who are still young today. Which is why I place a high priority on working with emerging Millennial leaders and why I’m holding my dedicated Breakfast Seminar in June.

Helping Millennials to learn from what we’ve got right in the past – and what we’ve got wrong – is possibly the most important thing we can do to help ensure that the world beyond 2017 is a fairer one than the world we seem to be living in today.

Neela Bettridge

About the author

Neela B