Leaders transcend borders and find local solutions, Fréchette tells students

14 July 2004
Louise Fréchette

Good leaders must be able to connect with people from all over the world as well as operate effectively in complex environments, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette told a gathering of student leaders today.

Addressing the Goldman Sachs Global Leadership Institute's 2004 luncheon in New York, Ms. Fréchette pointed to Sergio Vieira de Mello - the late UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN envoy who was killed last year in Iraq - as someone who had those qualities.

"Wherever he worked, he had an ability to understand what made people tick," Ms. Fréchette said. "Sergio was a proud Brazilian, but he enjoyed working not only with UN colleagues from all over the world, but with local people. He could deal just as effectively with an East Timorese guerrilla leader, a refugee from Kosovo, or an Iraqi cleric."

Ms. Fréchette noted that Mr. Vieira de Mello was able to do that because he could put aside his own conception of what was "normal," what was "the right way," and what constituted "success."

"That's why the solutions that work best are usually anchored in local traditions," she said. "A leader without borders doesn't impose pre-fabricated solutions and walk away - they empower local people to develop solutions in partnership, solutions that will stand the test of time."

The weeklong Goldman Sachs Global Leadership Institute in New York gathers 50 second-year university students from around to world to participate in workshops and seminars to learn about leadership and global issues from a range of faculty from business, academia and the non-profit sector.


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