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From AI-generated deepfakes to the spread of misinformation online, the 2024 election cycle is proving to be confusing and disruptive, no matter where in the world you’re voting.

With 65% of CEOs indicating geopolitical concerns are among the top disruptors they expect to face over the coming 12 months, and climate issues, DEI’s validity and questions about democracy itself not far behind, business leaders have much to consider as they make important decisions for their employees, organizations, and themselves.

We’ve asked our clients – some of the world’s top authorities on geopolitics, foreign policy, artificial intelligence and leadership – for guidance on what should be top of mind for anyone choosing their state’s top leaders this year.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter | Harvard Business School Professor, New York Times Best-Selling Author, Social Scientist and Distinguished Expert on Strategy, Innovation and Leadership for Corporate Change; Author, “MOVE” and “Think Outside the Building

“People hate uncertainty even more than they hate change. This chaotic election season in many countries is generating too much uncertainty. People are less concerned with ‘issues’ – details of policies – than with their own economic anxieties and fears for their families’ safety.

“As a business leader, you should avoid politics and instead focus on leading with a steady hand to offer an oasis of calm and continuity. Increase communication, keep values and mission in the forefront, help people who want to vote, and be attentive to their needs for their families. That way, regardless of who wins elections, your company will be more likely to inspire loyalty, increase resilience, and weather turbulence.”

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Rebecca Henderson | Harvard Business School Professor, Economist, Global Authority on Sustainable Business Growth, and Organizational Change Strategist and Researcher; Author, “Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire

“In my view, every business leader should be allowing their employees time off to vote – there is no better way to communicate that voting is critically important!”

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Rawi Abdelal | Award-winning Harvard Business School Professor of International Management and Foremost Authority on Geopolitical Trends Affecting Businesses, Economies, Supply Chains and Social Structures

“The messaging from business leaders should be about stability and embracing candidates who might provide us that stability. We shouldn’t care very much about whom the voters choose, as long as we can rely on this idea that it’s important for us to keep a stable economic environment and that requires a kind of reconvergence to the center of the political spectrum.”

For more insights, read the full story with Rawi Abdelal here.

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Gary Marcus | Leading Authority in Artificial Intelligence, Large Language Models and Deep Learning; Renowned AI Skeptic Voicing Policy and Safety Recommendations for ChatGPT, Google Gemini, and Other Models

In a recent Politico opinion piece, “How to Protect Americans From the Many Growing Threats of AI,” Marcus sheds light on the stalled evolution of policy around artificial intelligence. He compares it to the slow policy creation around social media, discusses the major decision-makers in Congress, and highlights the growing risks AI poses to democracy. Marcus outlines five areas national AI policy should address: data rights, transparency, liability, AI literacy, and layered oversight. Additionally, he suggests incentivizing AI for good via tax breaks for job creation.

“The choices Congress makes (or fails to make) around AI policy in the coming months will likely have a massive impact on the coming decades,” concludes Marcus in Politico. “If Schumer and others shy away from what needs to be done, the sad history of social media may repeat itself, but this time at an even larger scale, with even greater consequences.”

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Mark Esposito | Director of the Hult International Business School Futures Impact Lab and Harvard Social Scientist; International Authority on Strategy and Economics; Co-Author, “The AI Republic” and the Award-Winning “The Great Remobilization,” and Author, “Digitizing the Emerging Economies” (2024)

“Generative AI has significantly changed how political campaigns operate and spread information. Powerful new tools allow easy and rapid generation of fake photos, videos and other media that can mislead voters. If left unchecked, there is a real risk these technologies could be used to systematically undermine the integrity of elections and erode trust in the democratic process through deepfakes and manipulated media on a massive scale.

“Strong policy responses are urgently needed to protect the public sphere from the potentially damaging effects of a society propelled by algorithmic hallucinations, rather than on facts rooted and based in unequivocal truth.”

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Gautam Mukunda | Yale School of Management Lecturer in the Practice of Management; Author, “Indispensable” and “Picking Presidents

“The single most important voting issue in the 2024 elections will be the stability of American liberal democracy.

“Although President Trump posed severe challenges to democratic stability in his first term, culminating in his instigation of the January 6th attack on the Capitol, publicly announced plans for his second term seem likely to be far more dangerous. They include the use of the armed forces to round up ‘millions’ of undocumented immigrants in both blue and red states, the replacement of large swaths of the civil service with political appointees chosen on the basis of their loyalty to President Trump’s agenda, the use of ‘acting’ appointments to evade Senate scrutiny of presidential appointees, and his repeatedly stated intent to use the Justice Department to prosecute his political enemies. The combination is likely to pose a severe threat to an American political system that is simply not designed to withstand a wholesale assault on liberal norms by a president.

“Business leaders who might normally be concerned by issues like taxation, regulation, or anti-trust enforcement need to understand that this election is about something far more fundamental. Those who think they can profit from the tax cuts and other policies promised by the Trump administration need only look at countries like Hungary and Russia (both, not coincidentally, greatly favored by Trump and his intellectual supporters), where the business elite have been entirely subordinated to the demands of politics, with major business owners routinely forced to give up their wealth to cronies of the ruling party. “After the Constitution was signed, Benjamin Franklin was asked ‘Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?’ Franklin replied, ‘A republic, if you can keep it.’ Americans have kept one ever since. But that question can never be permanently answered. Each new generation of Americans has to answer it again.

“In this election, business leaders must understand that their chief responsibility – their only responsibility – is to maintain America’s democratic republic.”

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Karthik Ramanna | Oxford Professor and Inaugural Director of the Master of Public Policy Program; HBR McKinsey Award-Winning Expert on Capitalism, Climate Change, and Corporate Reporting; Author of the Forthcoming Book, “The Age of Outrage” (2024)

“There are five steps for leaders to engage in as they navigate their organizations through this polarized world.

“The first and most important step, which is at the core of everything, is turning down the temperature. You can’t get things done if people are in a heated state of mind. The work I’ve conducted with my colleagues draws from scientific theories of human aggression to show how this can be done in a managerial context.

“After that we go into an active listening and diagnostic phase, what we call ‘making sense of the moment.’ We try to understand what is at the root cause of the specific instance of outrage that you might be facing. The world is currently dealing with many grand problems like climate change, income inequality, demographic shifts, AI, extremism and so on, and these can make seemingly boundless claims on your organization. So, importantly, in your specific crisis, we seek to examine what are the root causes? And how are those root causes getting amplified through certain ‘catalysts’? These catalysts, usually key individuals, are especially important in this process because they’re the ones that can either exacerbate the problem or help you mitigate it.

“With some understanding of the drivers of outrage in this context, we can move into the third step where managers consider how to respond. What are the problems where you truly have organizational capabilities to make progress? And what are the problems where, by getting involved, you will invoke still more outrage and potentially set yourself up for a bigger failure?

“Fourth is understanding the power to mobilize others to move your organization onto a stable and sustainable path where it is not constantly fire-fighting. It’s important in the age of outrage to recognize that you cannot solve all the problems thrown at you at their root cause-level, but you can set in motion actions from the ground-up that allow the organization to sustain and thrive. This requires mobilizing others and working through the dynamics and tactics of doing just that.

“Admittedly, doing all four of these steps is really hard, so the next, final, stage of the process is really about resilience. How do you take time for yourself, but also for your organization to rejuvenate and replenish energy?

“Managing in the age of outrage is different from simply managing outrage. Managing outrage is crisis management, which we do that from time to time and then get on with our daily lives. But when you’re managing in the age of outrage, you are continuously expected to be ‘on,’ and that can completely deplete you and your team unless you bring a whole new mindset to it. So, just like you’ve got an accounting function, a finance function, a marketing function, etc., in your organization, you now need to build this new managerial function for managing in the age of outrage. That’s what our work has focused on.”

When every headline is dominated by election uncertainties and geopolitical concerns, leaders have the power to turn challenges into opportunities for growth and innovation. Stern Strategy Group connects you with renowned thought leaders whose insights, strategies and management frameworks help organizations fuel growth and disruptive innovation to better compete in a constantly changing world. Let us arrange for these esteemed experts to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting sessions, workshops and keynotes.

Election 2024: A Guide for Building Stability in Unstable Times was last modified: April 17th, 2024 by Whitney Jennings