Adding Emotion to the Mix

Isabella McDougall, University of Sydney

“It’s crucial to add emotions to the policy making mix, if it doesn’t connect with peoples dreams, the policy will never have traction.” This was a defining closing remark made by OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría during his opening address at the 2019 Forum in Paris.  

The theme of this year’s Forum, ‘World in eMotion’ is reflective of the immeasurable opportunities of digitalisation and globalisation today and into the future, and the need for people’s emotions to interact with this new wave. The Secretary General impressed upon the audience that there is an urgency to  harness the inevitable change occurring around us, rather than be driven by it. We were asked to consider digitalisation and globalisation as a catalyst to create and deliver inclusive growth, sustainable growth and improve the lives of all in society. Conversely, as this progress presents itself we must be very aware that it comes with an array of challenges. Globalisation and digitisation are producing dangerous fault lines in our society that is driving fear, anxiety and distrust in the standards and norms we are accustomed to. 

The Secretary General’s opening remarks moved me to investigate how I live my own life and my emotional response to policies and initiatives happening around me and for me. In this ever transforming world, the OECD Forum 2019 call to action transcends the two day event, “What can I do? What can we do? What can we do together?” now and into the future. 

Reflecting on the first day of the Forum, a striking feature was the interactive nature of the panel and workshop discussions that sought to engage the perspectives of all thirty-six OECD countries. Further too was the percentage of female speakers ,at 40%, an OECD record, and the strong youth engagement from Canada, Brazil, Germany and Australia. 

As someone who is currently in the professional environment, I am learning and experiencing leadership styles amongst teams, managers and executives. A session which strongly resonated with me, was ‘CEO Activism and New Leadership’ featuring CEO of Engie, Isabella Kocher and CEO of Randstad, Jacques van den Broek. 

These two CEOs of leading Fortune 500 companies spoke on the qualities of what makes effective and successful leaders today. In a simplistic view, they are listeners, optimistic, and hardy people. To drive growth and people, they spoke of their belief in the need for purpose, to have courage and be patient, especially if you seek to reform the agenda. Ms Kocher surmised, there is no point being a sole CEO activist, rather those fortunate enough to be in executive positions need to share. Sharing will deliver action and action brings hope and change. 

While these are only a few take aways from day one of our four day opportunity here in Paris, it is clear that this event will have a lasting impact. One that will require me to consider and reflect on how to incorporate emotion for good into my everyday.