#ChangeForGood: A review of the Havas Health Global Leadership Meeting

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Lisa Jeary is a Client Services Director at Havas Lynx, dedicated to healthcare and patient wellbeing. With over ten years of cross-industry marketing experience, Lisa has an aversion to jargon and fads and a passion for storytelling and the art of persuasion. Last week Lisa took to the stage as part of the Havas Health Global Leadership meeting in Miami.

A lot of companies talk about changing the world for the better. It may appear that a #ChangeForGood theme for the Havas Health annual summit of global leaders is more of the same; little more than an attempt to buoy up the corporate ship in a hotel nestled under the palm trees of Miami Beach.

Corporate w**kers, I hear you mutter. Hold that breath, I want to tell you a story.

Carola Salvato is an Italian force to be reckoned with. Wild, bright red hair and warmth exuding, she defies the stale image of business conferences. She took to the stage, and nervously, with notes in her hand, for English is her second language, mesmerised every person in the room.

Leadership is about looking after people, she explained. We cannot be “the boss” and we cannot force our people to act. We must convince them to “come with us”, and we must stand next to them whilst we do.

She closed by singing beautifully in Italian and we clapped in time, badly, as we lacked her natural rhythm but desperately wanted to come with her.

Earlier, our guest speaker, Paul Deegan, talked to us of expeditions up Everest he had led over 20 years of mountaineering obsession. He talked of a steep learning curve (excuse the pun), and gradually coming to the understanding that to get the team to the peak, he sometimes had to lead from the back.

In every expedition, regardless of extreme weather disasters, human tragedy, and the mind-blowing decision-making process accompanying them, his most important decision on each trip was the team he recruited. Trusting your team is everything. Trust gives people the power to help you, and become better than you so that you can all reach the peak.

Trust is built on respect and respect is built on shared values. Values are defined by your culture.

I am not a global leader, I have never climbed Everest, and I would never be brave enough to attempt an Italian song on a lonely stage in front of 200 global leaders. Yet I was there, and I did take the stage. And the reason for that is because when Havas leaders say they believe that the people on the ground are the most important part of business and their success in healthcare, they mean it.

#ChangeForGood is part of our ethos. We want to change the world for good and judging from the creative competition a lot of my colleagues around the world are creating beautiful, innovative, unique programs and campaigns in healthcare and pharma that have already changed the world for the better.

But this wasn’t a show and tell; this went to the heart of what #ChangeForGood really means in Havas: We, the people who work in healthcare, have to instil change, open-minds and trust within our cultures if we want to change the world.

We must be curious, and we must encourage those learning from experiences in our business to teach us something. We have to embrace our teams, listen to our future leaders, and take our inspiration from all places outside of the four walls of our offices.

A lot of companies pay lip-service to slogans such as #ChangeForGood. I confirmed my suspicions at the Havas Health annual summit that Havas is not one of them. For Havas this was about culture, not slogans. I leave my experience of the leadership summit truly inspired by the leaders of today, to strive to live the philosophy of change, and become a leader of tomorrow.