The Inner Voice of Strategic Leadership

This is an event in the Ideas in Practice series hosted by Leeds University Business School on Wednesday 28 February 2018

Please be our guest and join us for an evening of ‘something completely different’ when our international visiting guest, Art Kleiner, Global Editor in Chief at PwC in New York will inspire us to reach the ‘high ground’. Maurizio Zollo, Professor in Strategy and Sustainability at Bocconi University will then take over with a response to Art’s speech and give us some insights from his work on Global Organizational Learning and how managers can lead their companies through evolutionary processes.  

About Art’s address:        

When executives and managers make decisions, the moment of choice tends to lead them in one of two directions: toward the "high ground" of strategic leadership, that can help organizations transcend their limits and reach loftier aspirations; or toward the "low ground" of transactional leadership, that can make expedient deals and solve immediate problems. These two patterns of mental activity are linked to different aspects of brain function, and by pursuing one over the other, people reinforce the kind of leader they will become. In this talk, derived from the forthcoming book ‘The Wise Advocate: The Inner Voice of Strategic Leadership’, co-authored with Jeffrey Schwartz and Josie Thomson, strategy + business editor-in-chief, Art Kleiner will describe the path to the inner high ground. 

He will show the neuroscience evidence for mental habits - including strengthening the executive function, applied mindfulness, and mentalising (thinking about what other people are thinking) - that strengthen the high ground of the mind and brain and make you a more effective leader. By following this pattern of mental activity, people in organizations call on a "wise advocate": a construct within their mind that serves as an inner guide, enhancing cognitive insight and increasing the ability to take an impartial, mindful perspective on the challenges of the moment. We sometimes describe this as taking a third-person perspective on your first-person experience. 

As people become more proficient at this, they can play a role as "wise advocate" for the rest of the organization as well, helping everyone develop a collective capability for leadership that overcomes old limits to success. When leaders pursue the high ground in their minds, using four steps - relabelling deceptive messages, reframing new approaches, refocusing attention, and revaluing their activity - they learn to focus less on pleasing people, and more on what is best for the whole system in the long run.


The event is co-hosted by Leeds University Business School and Squire Patton Boggs.

Event format

6.00pm Welcome & Registration with Prosecco and Treats
6.30pm Welcome from Karen French, Partner at Leeds office, Squire Patton Boggs and Professor Peter Moizer, Executive Dean, Leeds University Business School
6.45pm Keynote speakers
  Art Kleiner, Editor-in-Chief of strategy+business, PwC
  Maurizio Zollo, Professor in Strategy and Sustainability, Bocconi University
7.45pm Vote of Thanks and Closing Remarks: Professor Timothy Devinney, Pro-Dean for Research & Innovation and Leadership Chair in International Business, Leeds University Business School
8.00pm Networking Drinks and Gourmet Supper
8:30pm Event Close

For further information, please contact The Research Office at

About the speaker

Art Kleiner is the editor-in-chief of strategy+business, an award-winning management magazine published by PwC. With more than 1.3 million readers (combined online and in print), the magazine is recognized for its distinctive coverage of business thought leadership and issues facing decision-makers. 

Kleiner is also a writer, lecturer and commentator, with a background in organizational culture and change, corporate environmentalism, education, scenario planning, and neuroscience and leadership. His published books include The Age of Heretics: A History of the Radical Thinkers Who Reinvented Corporate Management  (Wiley, 2008) and Who Really Matters: The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege, and Success (2003, Doubleday). 

He has also been a faculty member at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, where he taught scenario planning. As the editorial director of the best-selling Fifth Discipline Fieldbook series with Peter Senge, and as an editor at the Whole Earth Catalog before that, he has been a leading figure in promoting ideas with practical value. He lives outside New York City.