Carolyn Buck Luce

September 03, 2014 | 07:23 PM |

The Changing Face of Leadership

After four decades in the public and private sector, all in male-dominated industries—the Foreign Service, Investment Banking and Consulting—I think it’s time for a new approach to women’s leadership training. Instead of focusing on how to help women “catch up” and “level the playing field”, let’s help them embody the new leadership competencies and behaviors that all leaders will need in the new economy.

Don’t get me wrong. Today’s current training for women professionals striving for success in a male-dominant culture focuses on constructive, necessary skills and behaviors like negotiating, finding mentors and sponsors, building executive presence, networking, and self-promotion. This approach goes hand in hand with a parallel focus by companies to tackle their talent management systems and processes in order to re-engineer unconscious bias out of decisions around hiring, promotion and work assignments. However, after hundreds of millions of dollars, pounds, and euros of leadership training, we are not moving women fast enough through the talent pipeline to senior leadership and board positions.

At the Center for Talent Innovation, where I am the Executive in Residence, we know that today’s approach is 100% half right. Women need to develop all those competencies, but they are only half of what we need. Companies in all industries are facing seismic shifts in the way business is being done. Our travels through the Information Age are speeding up and we are entering the Imagination Age, fueled by technology, data, globalization and industry convergence. In fact, it’s easy to imagine that in 10 years, 25% of the job titles that currently exist globally in Healthcare, Media, Telecommunications, Financial Services, Manufacturing etc. will be gone, replaced by something new.

Instead of just playing “catch up”, there is an opportunity to advance beyond the current state of play to build critical personal skills and behaviors fit for the future.

At the Center for Talent Innovation, in partnership with Imaginal Labs LLC, we have identified these new disruptive leadership competencies, or Leadership Archetypes:

Business Model Architect—experienced in knowing how to (re)organize and (re)construct the tangible and intangible assets needed to deliver the most value to others for a fair value in return.

Brand Designer -able to create the optimal “user experience” that is authentic, aligned, attuned and anticipatory to all stakeholders.

Digital Executive—fluent in creation, curation, synthesis, socialization and distribution of meaningful virtual content and communication that builds trust and engagement.

Trust Builder—successful in building strong, trusting relationships, face-to-face and virtual, with all stakeholders across the divides of culture, gender, geography, time zones, and generations.

Talent Maker—master of the inclusive leadership behaviors and practices that celebrate the power of difference in a way that encourages all streams of talent to work up to the level of their skills and aspirations in order to unlock the illusive "diversity dividend".

Ecosystem Engineer—accomplished at designing, nurturing and sustaining powerful networks that form the relational capital that drives competitive advantage.

The current leadership development agenda is a good start. Now imagine the power of mastering these new Leadership Archetypes and applying them to your company’s biggest business challenges.

I bet the men would want to sign up for this as well!

March 21, 2014 | 09:00 PM |

How the ‘SHEconomy’ Will Reshape the Private Sector

By Carolyn Buck Luce

(cross posted on Huffington Post)

Last week, I had the honor of being the MC for the event at the United Nations to celebrate International Women’s Day. Presented by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the UN Office for Partnerships, “Turning Inspiration into Action: Next Steps for the Private Sector to Empower Women Globally” convened a cross-section of social empowerment heavy hitters, including Chelsea Clinton, Ambassador Melanie Verveer, and representatives from some of America’s biggest companies who make it their business to help women succeed.

Why should the private sector care? And why the UN? Today we are facing a new Emerging Market that will dwarf the size of both the population and GDPs of China and India. What is the Emerging Market that will redefine society and the world? Women. And there is a powerful business case for developing sustainable women’s economic empowerment programs, not just in the United States but also around the world.

In the next decade it is estimated that close to 1 billion women, mostly in the developing world, are going to enter the formal economy and become new economic contributors, as full-time workers and micro-entrepreneurs. The growing pace of urban migration, access to education, better health, mobile technologies and micro credit will continue to fuel this phenomenon.

This tidal wave of talent and new purchasing power joins the growing dominance of women in the developed world.

• In the U.S. and Europe, women account for the majority of college students, and this is trending towards 60 percent.

• Working women in the United States generate $4.3 trillion in earned income annually and now represent 50 percent of all workers in this country.

• Women contributed nearly 100 percent of the change in family income in the past decade in the U.S.

• They represent the fastest cohort of wealth accumulators — owning 75 percent of the nation’s wealth in the U.S. — and are estimated to inherit anywhere from $12-$40 trillion over the next 20 years.

• If women were working at the same rate men were global GDP would take off — for example, in Egypt, GDP could grow by 34 percent, 12 percent in the United Arab Emirates, in Japan by 9 percent, and in the United States by 5 percent.

• Globally women make 65 percent+ of all purchasing decisions, including cars, houses and health

In other words, the economy is turning into the “SHEconomy.”

At a time when country boundaries are hardening, creating challenges for multilateral and civil society organizations to fulfill their missions, there is good news. The private sector is growing in consciousness as it goes global in a shrinking world. The demographic, social, geopolitical, technology and economic realities are coming together to paint a vivid picture in the C-Suites — and executives are realizing that women are the greatest untapped and abundant natural resources left on the planet. And courageous private sector leaders understand that we are reaching a tipping point where companies will need to take a longer-term view and embrace the possibility that the private sector could be a unique engine of transformation for the world.

At the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI), the New York think-tank where I serve as Executive-in-Residence and co-founder, women’s empowerment has been one of our core themes since the Center was founded ten years ago, and it remains central as we move into our next decade of amplifying the conversation on under-leveraged streams of talent around the world.

In fact, we are calling 2014 “The Year of the Woman” at CTI: We kicked off the year by launching “Athena Factor 2.0: Accelerating Female Talent in Science, Engineering and Technology.” We’re also producing in-depth, data-driven reports on “The Power of the Purse: The Implications of the SHEconomy for Health and Wealth” which examines the ways companies can leverage their business and talent models to capitalize on these demographic mega-trends. A subject near to my heart, we will also be launching “Women and Power,” which will illuminate how women differ from men in how they define power, what they want from it, how they “wear” it, and how their relationship with power and ambition contributes to their “stalling” at the threshold to executive positions.

In a panel discussion which I moderated at the UN event, four of our sponsors of these studies — Tupperware Brands, UBS Financial Services, Cardinal Health, and Grey Healthcare Group — had a thought-provoking conversation on the “SHEconomy” and the power of the female consumer in a growing middle class to effect change in all different sectors of the economy.

It’s a conversation that will spread to every corner office, cubicle and kitchen where a talented women is making decisions about how to invest her money, pay for her — and her family’s — healthcare, and progress in her career. I hope you’ll join in. I’d love to hear your comments.

November 11, 2013 | 04:02 PM |

"The Power of the Purse: Catching the Wave of the Next Emerging Market" on Inc.

Carolyn Buck Luce is currently the Executive-in-Residence at the Center for Talent Innovation. Last week, Luce posted a potent piece,"The Power of the Purse: Catching the Wave of the Next Emerging Market"on Inc. magazine’s online forum.

Read the entire article. 

November 07, 2013 | 05:57 PM |


Carolyn Buck Luce spoke at the Annual Meeting of the SFO chapter of the HBA on October 24th, 2013 at the HQ of Onyx Pharmaceuticals.  She shared her vision for the future of the HC industry and the new competencies that leaders will need to drive the transformation that is upon us.

Download the slide deck HERE

November 02, 2013 | 11:55 AM |

Women and Power: For What Purpose?

In my last class of Women and Power that I teach at Columbia University’s Graduate School of International and Public Affairs, the topic was Leadership in the 21rst Century and the legacy of this generation of women for the women’s movement and the world.  My guests were 3 courageous leaders from the Amazon rain forest.

Here is a link to my blog on the Huffington Post on what we learned.

September 27, 2013 | 09:02 PM |


Carolyn Buck Luce, a cofounder and managing partner at Imaginal Labs, writes on Huffington Post: “I have found that women have to get to the center of what it means for them to have a life of meaning and purpose and to envision the leader they want to be — at home, at work and in the world.”

See the entire interview with Nancy Redd and read Carolyn’s essay on Huffington Post


August 21, 2013 | 09:12 PM | 1 note

My Journey into the Amazon Jungle

How did I spend my summer vacation? Journeying deep into heart and lungs of the world - - the untouched, pristine Amazon rain forest in central/south Ecuador, the home of the Achuar Nation.  The Achuar are a “dreaming” culture who put great emphasis on their dreams.  Up until about 25 years ago, they were “uncontacted” and for centuries had been recognized for their fierce warrior culture.  



However, having witnessed the disastrous effects of oil exploration in the northern part of the country and its impacts on their indigenous neighbors, the Achuar leaders came to realize that they needed to “awaken the dreamers” of the North and change the dream so that the Rain Forest, and the world could be saved for generations to come.

Seventeen years ago, the Achuar leaders decided to voluntarily make contact with the outside world on THEIR terms and they reached out to some leaders of moral courage who shared their view of creating an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fullfilling and socially just human presence on the Earth - - and the Pachamama (meaning Mother Earth in Quechua language) Alliance was formed.  The founders - - John Perkins and Bill and Lynne Twist - - along with 9 others - - ventured into Achuar territory to meet with the shamans and leaders and were told that if they had come to help the Achuar, never mind.  But if they had come because their respective liberations were tied up with one another, then a partnership could be formed.  (I encourage you to go to to view fascinating videos)

My husband Rob and I are long time supporters of the Pachamama Alliance and it was under their leadership that we took our journey.  I went first, with a fierce and wonderful group of women to help support one of Pachamama’s programs “Jungle Mamas”. With the help of the One Heart World-Wide, Jungle Mama’s is training the Achuar women on midwifery and maternal health.


After a week with Jungle Mamas I was joined by my husband Rob and another Pachamama group led by all three of the founders so that we could all learn more about the rain forest and its critical role in the health of the world, the culture of the Achuar and other indigenous neighbors and the work of the Pachamama Alliance to work with indigenous leaders to develop alternatives to oil exploration to present to the governments of the Amazon Basin.

I could write for weeks on my experiences, but here are a few major take aways that I would like to share:

1) Ecuador is one of the world’s “hot spots” in that it has more bio-diversity (given its position on the Equator and its treasures of the Galapagos, the Andes and the Rain Forest) and cultural diversity than any other country of its size.

2) Oil exploration in the Amazon and the infrastructure that supports it has devastating effects on the rainforest which will not grow back.  Given the effects of overconsumption of fossil fuels in the world, the melting of the ice caps and the deforestation of the rainforest will combine in tragic ways in the future.

3) I had thought of indigenous people living in the jungle the way they have done for thousands of years as primitive. They are highly sophisticated in ways that we are primitive - - in their knowledge of the earth, nature, spirit world, community, and vice versa.  We have so much to learn from each other to take the best of the world of technology and the world of nature.

4) I have known for awhile that future progress of the women’s movement and women’s empowerment in the world would require enlisting men as allies.  I was blown away by the dedication of the young men leaders of the Achuar to learn as much as they could about our Jungle Mama’s program so that they could support the health of their wives, their children, the community and mankind.



August 20, 2013 | 04:37 PM |

Connected Leaders for Connected Health with Carolyn Buck-Luce


Carolyn Buck Luce, the 2012 Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association Woman of the Year, will be speaking at the Annual Meeting of the SFO chapter of the HBA on October 24th, 2013 at the HQ of Onyx Pharmaceuticals.  She will be sharing her vision for the future of the HC industry and the new competencies that leaders will need to drive the transformation that is upon us.

June 12, 2013 | 10:43 AM |

The Third Metric - Getting to the Center not the Top

I had the privilege of participating in a panel at Arianna Huffington’s apartment last week for a gathering to explore ”The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power.” Arianna asked all of the speakers to post a blog on the HuffPostWomen’s site.  Here is an excerpt from that blog:

"…I have been thinking about this topic for a while as I reflect on the imperative to get more women into impactful roles of meaning and purpose so that we can make the institutions of today - - healthcare, education, politics, religion, capitalism - - better meet the needs of society.  We all know that these institutions are broken and require transformational change.  This type of change calls for courage. Courage, comes from the word “heart” and means to move forward with your heart in your mouth during times of fear, uncertainty and doubt

And change requires courageous leaders taking the Hero’s journey, leaning into possibilities - - to do all that they can and become all that they are meant to be.

I celebrated the beginning of the new Era, December 22, 2012, with two auspicious events.  I “matriculated” from 40 years in the male-dominated corporate world when I retired as the partner leading the global Life Sciences business at Ernst & Young due to our mandatory partner retirement age of 60. And I got married.  In order to “clear my head” and get ready for the next chapter in my journey, my newly minted husband, Rob and I, spent our honeymoon climbing Mt Kilimanjaro.

Mt Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in Africa and at 19,300 feet one of the highest in the world.  A strange choice for a honeymoon given that entailed sleeping in separate mummy bags in little tents in freezing weather clinging to the side of an old volcano.  Why did we do it?  Not because we wanted to “conquer” the mountain.  In fact our local guides, and we had a crew of 25 to help us, told us “You are the conquerors”  “You will conquer the mountain”.  However early on in the climb we shared a different reason.  We were not there to conquer the mountain - - rather we were there to borrow a little strength and wisdom from the mountain that had been there for over 200mm years and had wept for many.  We climbed Kilimanjaro because we wanted to share the gift of an intense physical, mental, emotional and spiritual experience together  - - to really know and feel and remember the spirit of partnership that would take us to and through our dying days.

In fact, we were not there to get to the top - - but rather find the center.  The essence of strength and human limits, of love and partnership.

I have thought a lot about the courageous leadership the world needs now and here is the question I keep asking myself.  Why is it that courageous women - - women have to be courageous as we are the birthers, the fixers, the caregivers, the mourners - - Why is it that courageous women find it challenging to be all that they want to be at work.  Surely it is not because we don’t Lean In enough.  It’s that Leaning in is not enough.image

What I have learned is that women need to be clear about “Why” they are working and “Who” they are committed to be as leaders - - taking the Hero’s journey to be all they can be for a better world.  Getting to the center, not the top.  Authentic bold strong committed leaders who get to the essence of the matter - - your value proposition, your team, your project, your community - - rise to the top that matters, the pinnacle of their souls.

By understanding these metrics and designing performance measurements and rewards that celebrate getting to the center, not the top, we will create the institutions that actually meet the needs of society and create the legacy that the next generations will thank us for.”

May 01, 2013 | 03:15 PM |

Honoring Lives of Commitment on May Day

May 1.  May Day. For centuries and millennia, May Day has been celebrated around the world for many reasons - as the rites of spring, the celebration of summer, and to honor the international labor movement.  On this bright, refulgent May Day in New York City, over 500 of us gathered together to celebrate the lives of commitment of three extraordinary courageous leaders who have been supported by the work of Auburn Theological Seminary - - Congresswoman and veteran Tammy Duckworth, Spiritual leader and activist Sister Simone Campbell, and Philanthropist and social entrepreneur Lauren Bush Lauren.

Auburn’s mission is to equip bold and resilient leaders with the tools they need to bridge religious and political divides, build community, pursue justice and heal the world.  They achieve this through their efforts to educate and support leaders through research, media training and movement building that uphold and connect the core values of the multi-faith movement for justice.

Here are just a few words of insight and inspiration that I took away from these courageous and god-filled leaders:

Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who was a Blackhawk helicopter pilot  in Iraq who lost both her legs and partial use of an arm and was awarded a Purple Heart for her valor, fights valiantly for the rights of veterans and all people in America to have the chance to participate in the American Dream.  She spoke about the little acts of grace by individuals and the big acts fo grace by our government that has sustained her from her childhood living on food stamps and 25cent school lunches to her recovery at Walter Reed hospital.  And of the gift of fearlessness that she learned from her experiences in Iraq that allow her to commit to fight all the necessary political battles ahead.  And of her first hand experience of “no one left behind” by her fellow soldiers on the battlefield that drives her courage to fight for all human dignity and economic justice for all.


Sister Simone Campbell is the Executive Director of NETWORK in Washington and is known as a religious leader, attorney and poet with extensive experience in public policy and advocacy for systemic change. She has been very much in the news as the leader of the Nuns on the Bus tour that raised awareness, took on the Vatican and changed minds and votes in Washington on issues from health care reform, to immigration and   economic justice.  Sister Simone reminded us that the preamble to the US Constitution that starts with “We the People” concludes with “…to promote the general Welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…” Which means that our job doesn’t stop with us - - but includes making sure that we are creating a just and secure world for our children and grandchildren.   And that the role of policy making in Washington and in the State Houses is not to secure and protect profits but to shape the future for posterity.

Sister Simone has not always agreed with the Vatican and other institutional religious leaders but sees that they are all part of “one body, many members” and they each have a role to play.  She brought down the house by identifying her unique role as “stomach acid” which is a critical element in the ability to digest food.


Lauren Bush Lauren is the CEO and Co-Founder of FEED Projects, a charitable company with the mission to create good products that help feed the world.  She is the granddaughter and niece of two American Presidents and the daughter in law of one of the world’s great fashion families, had combined her talents and her heart to  create a model for ethical business practices and products which provides nutritious, life-saving meals to millions of hungry school children worldwide.  Lauren is a great example of “conscious capitalism” where the triple bottom line is achievable. She believes that the millennial generation and consumers around the global will demand that capitalism take responsibility for the short and longer term impact they have on all stakeholders and the CEOs who don’t take that to heart will be left behind.


It was a great way to usher in May Day and celebrate the lives of commitment of courageous leaders.  Courage, after all, comes from the word heart - coeur - and it means to go forth with your heart in your mouth at times of fear, uncertainty and doubt.  And to do that on behalf not just of ourselves, but for posterity.

Happy May Day All!


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