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“We train different leaders: conscious leaders. It is part of our mission”. Trends in responsible governance in 2024

8 Enero - 2024
liderazgo consciente

Marcos Eguiguren, Associate Provost for Strategic Projects UPF-BSM


What is the outlook for the year ahead with respect to one of the key areas of action of the UPF Barcelona School of Management? We begin 2024 with a series or articles on our experts’ forecasts for 2024. This one, with some reflections from the Associate Provost for Strategic Projects at the UPF-BSM, Professor Marcos Eguiguren, on what we can expect to see in 2024 in terms of conscious leadership and companies with purpose.

What is conscious leadership, first of all? As far as Marcos Eguiguren is concerned, it consists of “any type of criteria, ways and systems of understanding and leading a public or private human organization in such a way that it takes into account its profound impact on society”. In other words, it is a broad vision that encompasses all the activities generated within the scope of the company or organization: the customers, the employees, etc., with a focus on why, how and for what purpose.

In the expert’s opinion, the key question is not so much a matter of what companies are doing that are already close to achieving this way of perceiving management, but rather of what companies that still do not apply this approach can do. “I have nothing against other forms of management, but companies that do not yet practice conscious leadership should really be curious about this issue because it is not mutually exclusive with being competitive. It is perfectly possible to be fully conscious and competitive at the same time”.

Three big recommendations

Eguiguren has three big tips on this matter for 2024, which apply to the majority of companies, regardless of their size. The first is not to limit yourself merely to complying with the law. If we ask most big companies their position on conscious leadership, a common answer to avoid the question is that they already fully comply with all the existing regulations. Of course, compliance is necessary, but it is not enough. To be a conscious leader, “you have to go further than the legislation demands, which in many cases does not cost anything financially”, explains the Professor,

The second recommendation is to show initiative. “it is one thing to be reactive and obediently comply with the legislation, but quite another thing to be proactive and take the initiative and moral imperative. Because this is what gives the company soul."

"Compliance with legal regulations will not give you soul, but taking the moral initiative will”, he reflects.

Lastly, the third recommendation is simple: do not wait too long to adopt it. Practicing conscious leadership is necessary, first and foremost, because it is the right thing to do. However, secondly, we should also do so because it has benefits for the company. To finish off, he adds that companies should adapt conscious leadership without delay because “it is also a way of defending ourselves from the government, which always gives into the temptation to intervene. Conscious leadership is also a reaction, a way of undermining arguments for excessive interventionism by the State”.

The situation in business schools

With respect to the situation of conscious leadership in business schools, Marcos Eguiguren believes that, as in all sectors of society, we can find a whole spectrum, with some taking the matter more seriously than others. However, “at a global level, around 800 schools have signed up to the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) and that is a first step”. In fact, all the schools should sign to show their agreement with these principles and, as a second step, make the reforms required to integrate them within their DNA and throughout their day-to-day operations. Of course, the level of compliance varies among the signatories. Some schools demonstrate a high level of compliance, while others are taking the initial steps”.

The UPF-BSM forms part of the Iberian Chapter of the PRME, of which it also holds the Vice-Presidency of the Steering Committee. A total of 37 institutions have signed up to the Iberian Chapter, and the UPF-BSM boasts a high level of application and development. In this respect, the School’s position is underpinned by four key pillars:

  • Purpose and governance. The School’s mission, in line with the UPF’s, focuses on training different leaders that can provide a robust, imaginative and competitive response to the business and social challenges of today and tomorrow, embracing the perspective of “Planetary Wellbeing”. Moreover, the Board of Trustees of our Foundation is perfectly aligned with this vision, and most of the companies that form part of it set the standard in their respective sectors.
  • Research: Almost 40% of the papers developed at the School focus on aspects related to sustainability, ESG, conscious leadership and similar topics.
  • Knowledge transfer: Approximately 60% of the UPF-BSM’s activities are related to transferring knowledge to companies, through instruments such as our 11 research chairs (most of which focusing on issues associated with sustainability and a new conceptualization of the economy), two observatories, the Innovation and Sustainability Data Lab (ISDaLab), etc.
  • The tuition in the classroom: The School runs a series of Masters of Science, as well as cross-cutting courses on the topic, with segments of many different programs dedicated to sustainability and ethical leadership. In addition, the School takes part in the Erasmus + program on Conscious Business Education, which runs twenty-one courses on a range of functional areas and sectors, focusing on conscious business management, within the framework of a European consortium together with other leading management schools in their respective countries.


“We train different leaders, conscious leaders. It is part of our mission”, concluded Marcos Eguiguren. “There is a long way to go, but we are heading in the right direction”.

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