“Leaders must focus on other values than the mere shareholder value”

As part of our media cooperation with the Digital Media Women for the Hacking Leadership event, Lara was interviewed on Boma Global, new leadership models and why profit and impact must go hand in hand in the future. The article was originally published on the #DMW platform in German and is now open to our English speaking readers by courtesy of the DMW-network.

From TEDx to Boma 

Lara is the co-founder of Boma Global. In the past 15 years, she was working for both, for-profit and non-profit companies around developing systems and global networks that scale and deliver both, profit and impact. 10 Years ago she was hired by TED to think about how to bring this high-level conference out into the world. The first framework TEDx launched in March 2009. It was rather experimental - uncertain in its outcome. But it worked!

“So what, now what?”

In the first year, 250 TEDx events happened around the world, last year more than 3000 of them worldwide. From her own personal journey, she wanted to focus on the next step of systems change around the question: how can we drive real impact in the world rather than just inspiration?

One of the learnings coming out of TEDx were: it’s very hard to sustain a volunteer network. So she took a chance and started to build the next global network for the Singularity University. It saw a combination of impact and, at the same time, profit to make it more sustainable and create change and positive impact. Her vision took her even further and rather than focusing on impulses and technological change, she was seeking for a more holistic approach reflecting the true complexity of the changes.

Lara gathered with two of her former partners and founded Boma who had been with her on her journey for the last 12 to 15 years. Could we build a global network that represents the kind of system’s change we want to see in the world, Lara asks? The team wanted to create something new, something that is decentralized, agile - a smart learning platform that includes all stakeholders concerned – not only corporates and organizations, but also governments, communities, youth, NGOs and educational institutions. It also envisions to be driven by local partners, while executed on a global scale. Boma Global was founded.

“We are living in complex times – changes are not merely technological”

Lara emphasizes that the world is also impacted by strong geopolitical changes, social change, economic change, climate change and others. Traditional institutions are often top-down models designed for a command and control centered approach, tuned for efficiency and performance. This traditional leadership model, however, is not tailored to meet the current and upcoming changes. While systems open up, leadership models frequently remain unchanged and create immense tensions. Work forces, moreover, need to be trained, corporates need to create a counterpart that merges into a more human-centered approach given the radical technological developments. On top of that, Lara says, you have to put the responsibility to create positive impact and change on the planet. Her conclusion: corporates are currently not structured to drive these changes and lead their workforce through them.

Boma is a leadership compass

“That’s what we do at Boma”, Lara said. Boma was created to help institutions not only understand the changes and challenges for their industries and create sustainable strategies and leadership models around them, but also how to generate impact while remaining profitable. “Speaking about technological changes only does not do justice to the complexity of the moment. It’s too simplistic.” Everyone would have to learn to embrace this new complexity rather than shying away from it and cling to old pattern. This, Lara believes, is the only way to solving the societal, global challenges. the At the same time, this requires to happen at a deeply local and a global level.

Leaders must maximize through other values than the shareholder value

“We are a tiny planet and the world gets smaller. How do future global organizational and decentralized networks look like to start these required conversations and take action”, Lara asks. “We need to train our future leaders. We really need courageous leaders who embrace the agility needed and make decisions based on the rate of change.” She additionally recommends to maximize on additional values corresponding to these changes, and drive positive change on other levels beyond just maximizing for profit. She considers this to be the toughest part in the conversation. “We all know that corporates have a heavy responsibility towards their shareholders so it will take a very different kind of leadership and a very courageous group of leaders to say: “Enough is enough. Over the last 50 years, we have decimated the planet and we need to think differently about the future that we create for our children.”

Gender equality as a crucial future factor

“I would like to believe we are moving towards a world where my daughters would be able to walk into any workplace in the future and have the exact same respect as their male counterparts. I feel like we have a long way to go”, she concludes on the current status quo on gender equality. “The sexism is not blatant in Silicon Valley. It’s like still waters running deep.” She decided to support and mentor women unequivocally hoping, however, that one day men and women are just equal. Lara is convinced that a radical change is always linked to a system’s change – a cultural change would not be sufficient. She hints towards some of the northern leadership models where 40 percent of women in boards have been introduced as part of a scaffolding that is needed to create change to the system – change that lasts. Without these new fundamental structures, change will not happen, Lara firmly believes.

How does a leader have to lead in the future?

Boma is part of a new management curriculum, Lara states, where corporates and other institutions learn how to think leadership in a different way, courageous leadership. Profit and impact must go hand in hand in the future – they complement each other and are mutually depended. “Young generations today seek for a meaningful existence. They want their jobs to bring meaning to their lives. They would like to work for companies which are doing their best at driving a more responsible future.


Germany’s first international Summit on Corporate Transformation and Exponential Thinking 
On September 25th and 26th September 2019, the first Boma Germany Summit will take place in Berlin! 350 Top-Executives gather to meet and exchange with more than 30 international experts, thought leaders and pioneers from Digital Leadership, Exponential Technologies, Artificial Intelligence, New Work and Corporate Culture. Over this two-day event, executives from all industries and areas learn how to make their companies, divisions and employees future-proof, how to deploy a new way of exponential thinking and what it really takes to a holistic Corporate Transformation.

We thank our media partners Next Industry, Media:net Berlin Brandenburg and Berlin.Digital.

The main partner of the first Boma Germany Summit is the technology company SAP.

Contact: Antonia Werner, antonia@boma.global