Do you dream big, want to create change and make the world a better place but don’t know where to start? Well, we’ve got some great news for you. Holly Ransom is an expert in future leadership and her new book The Leading Edge she shows why dusty ideas about what makes a good leader need to get in the bin. We asked Holly for her tips on how to start making positive change today.
What is your favorite thing about yourself?
I know people see me as having myself together and being very in control, but truth be told, I am a total dag who loves nothing more than to hang out at home in my tracksuit pants, laugh at my own jokes and occasionally wonder if I’m too old for a foray into TikTok. I love the fact that I have an awesome team of people around me who help me stay razor sharp and super focused when it comes to presenting keynotes, running strategy sessions, interviewing leaders… but my inner dag keeps me sane at the end of the (often long) day.
What does being a leader mean to you?
In The Leading Edge I propose that we have lost our way with leadership recently. Leadership is not symbolised by status, or defined by authority. The power of leadership is in the everyday. The leaders we need to step forward right now are people who care enough to be the change they want to see in the world. Leadership is not for the faint hearted, it’s for the big hearted.
What is one thing we can all do today to start making a difference in the world?
Change starts on the inside. When we are living the best version of ourselves, we can contribute to the best version of the world. For example, can we get really clear on our values, and at the end of every day, ask ourselves, am I living these values. When we consistently answer yes, we will be leading these values for the people around us too. At that point we can begin to work with values aligned people and on values aligned projects. Now that is a catalyst for making a difference in the world.
What was the inspiration for writing this book?
As I’ve said, I believe everyone is capable of leading the change they care enough to make. The Leading Edge is a DIY manual of sorts to help people flick off the autopilot and scale that change for real. I take people through the best lessons I’ve learned from a diverse array of change-makers. The Leading Edge takes readers through the mindsets, methods and mastery of being a leader today. The book is divided into Part One: Leading Oneself and Part Two: Leading Others. I hope people will treat it like a recipe book and add their own ingredients to ensure what they bring to the table as a leader is a nourishing and delicious version of their own.
Can you tell us one thing that surprised you, or something interesting you learnt, while doing the research for this book?
I was surprised by how little we have strayed from teaching leadership in the dominant, male, privileged academic paradigm. Those lessons like time management, stakeholder management, change management are still rooted in the industrial age. Given how much our world has changed and how spectacularly traditional leadership models are failing us, find it bewildering that we still frame leadership within a dominant power structure. Having said that, the other delight in researching for The Leading Edge, was finding the points of light everywhere. When we look away from the spotlight, there are the most brilliant examples of grassroots leadership to follow.
You interviewed a lot of leaders and inspiring thinkers for this book, did any of them make an impact on your or change how you viewed an issue?
One hundred percent yes. When you look around at social pioneers truly leading from the edge – often underprivileged, alienated, and having been silenced or ignored – and you see the phenomenal change they are making today and throughout history, I really start to think: I owe it to the world to do more. By luck of my birth, I am able to bring all of my strength, my passion, my education and my influence to leading change. If people with so little can make such a big difference, I have no excuse for not battling my own demons of self-doubt and getting on with my contribution. Leading is not comfortable or easy, that’s why we need to find our edge in order to be at the leading edge.
Which five people would you invite to your dream dinner party and why?
Grace Tame because she stops, thinks and then unleashes absolute gold in her powerful words. Serena Williams because her force and vulnerability explode the status quo equally impressively. Jacinda Ardern because she has brought the human back to the political sphere with such tactical grace and eloquence. Malala because she is so brave and insatiably intelligent. And US Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman because the power, beauty and unbridled optimism she speaks with inspires me endlessly.
If you had the power to snap your fingers and change one thing in the world, what would it be?
I would give everyone a week in someone else’s shoes – the shoes of someone they consider as ‘other’. I believe that weaponising empathy is our best strategy for world peace.
Has a book ever changed your life?
When I began writing this book, I hoped to share the lessons I’ve learned from the myriad of incredible leaders I have been so fortunate to interview, work alongside or be mentored by. I sought to write The Leading Edge because it represents the book I so desperately longed for when I was thrust into the limelight, chairing the G20, at such a young age. But along the way, I have been urged by my collaborators, early readers, editors and publisher to weave in more of my own leadership learnings. In doing so, I’ve learnt so much more about my own ability to dream big, spark change and be the leader the world needs me to be!
Who is the most inspiring person you know and why?
As those of you who read the book will find, my grandmother, Dorothy has had a huge effect on the purpose and values I live by. Grandma told me early on that what you walk past, you tell the world is okay. She gave me a blend of hope, responsibility and empowerment to live my life as meaningfully as possible.
The Leading Edge is available in print, ebook and audiobook, and at all good bookstores. And you can check out Holly on her socials here.