Elizabeth Filippouli is a social entrepreneur with a background in media, having worked as a journalist with Greek press and TV and international organizations such as Al Jazeera English and CNN.
She is the founder and CEO of Global Thinkers Forum (GTF), a non-profit, London-based organization that was incubated at Oxford University’s Said Business School in 2011. It has a network of influencers and partners in more than 70 countries, and works to establish eight-month mentoring programs with business, political and civil society leaders. Its goal is to push meaningful conversations and to achieve positive change for youth and women around the world by providing individual support and specialized entrepreneurship training.
From her experience working with established and upcoming leaders, Filippouli is convinced leadership issues remain pressing and that democracy as a system is under threat. In order to make it effective again, she argues, it needs to be rewired and updated. “In 2021 we are confronted with the need to recalibrate not only our political and socioeconomic systems but also the ideas that we stand for,” she says. “The social contract as we knew it has to be revisited.”
According to her, the 2020 global pandemic has shown us that we cannot be “selfish, ignorant and individualistic,” and that we must care about the wellbeing of other people, because communities can only survive and thrive through solidarity. But she adds that a leaders also need to accept that answers are not always black or white.
Trust is therefore a huge issue for this charismatic woman. Social media platforms, she argues, are part of the trust gap: As much as they offer a platform for free expression, she believes that they can create echo chambers which circulate misinformation.
In order for society to reestablish trust, Filippouli says, regulatory bodies should make social media platforms identify their members and hold the platform accountable for the information it spreads. Additionally, it would help to ban user anonymity, Filippouli says.
Her advice for aspiring leaders is at once hopeful and daunting. “I believe that leaders must demonstrate higher levels of compassion and candor, and put egos aside,” she says. “As far as institutions are concerned, they should set human-centric goals, benchmark and measure their effectiveness. These will be the first steps towards regaining people’s trust.” Let’s hope the next generation of leaders is more successful at that than the last.
Elizabeth’s latest book ‘From Women to the World-Letters for a New Century’ was published by IB Tauris in July 2021.