Dr Sam Potolicchio is an advocate of ‘different is good’ - and that disagreements might just be the best contributor to fresh and innovative ideas.
“My argument is that if you can get outside of your own brain, you are more likely to be creative, more likely to have more wisdom and (have) better judgements,” says the director of global and custom education at Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy.
Potolicchio is a strong proponent of diversity in helping future leaders to be ready for an increasingly ‘complex, uncertain and ambiguous world’, where policymakers cannot afford to revert to taking a panoramic lens in tacking geopolitical problems.
“When you get people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives together, you are more likely to have growth and breakthrough,” he says.
Why Diversity Matters in Leadership & Education
The globetrotting professor spends a lot of time in the plane on his quest to to teach and practice diversity.
When you have that diversity, whether or not it’s a perspective, industry, experience, country or ideology, you’d be forced to get outside of your own brain
In a typical week, Potolicchio travels back and forth to teach at Washington DC and Moscow, where he developed English-language bachelor’s degree program in global leadership Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration.
“When you have that diversity, whether or not it’s a perspective, industry, experience, country or ideology, you’d be forced to get outside of your own brain - and that is one of the reason why I’m full time in Washington DC and full time in Moscow.”
“If you are going to preach this, you must also be able to practice it,” he says.
Potolicchio’s jet setting career led him to Malaysia recently, at the invitation of Amway, where he met with local business leaders and university students to speak about his passion - education and leadership.
Future Leaders Connect
Since 2012, Potolicchio - named one of “America’s Best Professors” by the Princeton Review - trained hundreds of aspiring leaders from over 100 countries through his non-profit Preparing Global Leaders Forum (PGLF).
PGLF organises leadership development and business education programmes, seminars and summits worldwide, designed for senior year students and young professionals.
We get stories of participants saying how PGLF has helped push them to run for parliament, or start their own business
“PGLF stands for Preparing Global Leaders Forum but the ‘global’ is really in the mindset - how to get outside of your own insular cocoon,” Potolicchio explains. “We put together an Ivy League faculty, we have (these programmes) in really nice cities and get the students there.”
“So, we have this cauldron of diversity to pushes them to get outside their normal thoughts, practices, and the biases they may have,” he adds.
PGLF is currently composed of four schools, in Bulgaria, Croatia, Jordan and Russia.
“I’d like to have two schools in every region of the world,” says Potolicchio.
PGLF is self-funded by Potolicchio but he doesn’t rule out funding from donors as he scales up its operations.
“It doesn’t matter if you are in Asia, or the Middle East or Western Europe. It is (about) trying to cultivate more confidence in people that don’t normally think of themselves as leaders - and they could be medical doctors, architects, or even poets.”
“We get stories of participants saying how PGLF has helped push them to run for parliament, or start their own business.”
“So, we want to do more to encourage people to have that ‘accidental discovery’, he says, adding that new mindsets and diversity will be the key areas to define the future of work.
Introverts Tend To Become Successful Leaders
Young leaders, therefore, should embrace learning different knowledge and disciplines.
"If you don't know what the jobs of the future are going be, it's not necessarily a singular type of specialty or knowledge that is going to lead you to a position of success."
"It is going to be how you form those unusual connections, how can you connect one body of knowledge to another," he says.