Susan Goldsworthy

Affiliate Professor of Leadership, Communications, and Organizational Change

Dr Susan Goldsworthy is Affiliate Professor of Leadership, Communications, and Organizational Change. As a former Olympic finalist, award-winning writer, executive coach, and speaker with more than 20 years of corporate experience with large multinationals, Susan Goldsworthy brings knowledge from the fields of sport, business and neuroscience to her leadership development work. She focuses on how leadership needs to change in an increasingly uncertain world, working with people and companies to turn knowledge into behavior to create the conditions for healthy high performance.

She believes that our current way of working and living is unsustainable – not only for ourselves, but for other species that share our planet – so the need for change with new narratives is critical. This includes a change in the style and type of leadership of organizations. No one person has all the answers, so the model of ‘power over’ needs to be replaced by one of ‘power with’ to cultivate conditions where people can flourish and co-create solutions to the challenges organizations face. This means uniting and working across departments, industries, cultures, and age groups, with a focus on inclusivity and diversity.

Goldsworthy has worked at senior management level in both publicly and privately owned companies in Japan, America and Europe, and has extensive experience in leading global communications, culture, brand management and diversity programs. She has also run her own successful business in leadership development, executive coaching and change communications for more than a decade. She is therefore able to offer expert guidance to individuals, teams, and companies on how organizations can develop clear, consistent, and credible narratives and instill a culture of sustainable high performance.

The idea that it is lonely at the top is a myth. It doesn’t have to be. We need to move from an outdated leadership model of ‘power over’ to one of ‘power with’ where, in an increasingly uncertain world, people co-create the conditions for others to thrive.

Notably, she has a long list of postgraduate qualifications and was one of the first people in the world to be awarded an Executive Masters in the Neuroscience of Leadership. Meanwhile, her doctoral research with Hult Ashridge International Business School explored how leaders have a responsibility to co-create conditions for hope and agency in the current world context. As a highly qualified C-suite executive coach, she is also trained in the use of a number of psychometric assessment tools.

Before embarking on her studies, Goldsworthy had a successful international swimming career during which she was an Olympic finalist, medal winner at the European Championships and Commonwealth Games and British record holder for five years.

She is co-author of three award-winning books. The recently released Where the Wild Things Were is a story for all ages about leadership, responsibility, hope and biodiversity loss, and won an Axiom Business Book Awards Bronze Medal in 2020. Meanwhile, Care to Dare: Unleashing Astonishing Potential through Secure Base Leadership, written with Duncan Coombe and George Kohlrieser in 2012, and Choosing Change: How Leaders and Organizations Drive Results One Person at a Time, co-authored with Walter McFarland in 2013, were both named among Soundview’s best business books of the year and won Axiom Business Book Award Silver Medals.

Goldsworthy works with a number of multinational clients across a wide range of industries. Her work with aviation technology group SITA won gold in the Excellence in Executive Education category of the 2021 Chief Learning Officer Learning in Practice Awards. The category is specifically for executive education providers delivering targeted programs for specific clients. Goldsworthy and her team were honored for their work on the SITA 5.0 Leadership Journey, an IMD custom program for the company’s top 200 executives.

In addition, she is Associate Director of IMD’s Cultivating leadership Energy through Awareness and Reflection (CLEAR) senior leadership program and Co-Director of the new IMD Executive Coaching Certificate.

She is a fellow of the Institute of Data & Marketing, a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and the International Coaching Federation.

Selected publications
Article
Can we have two golds?
At the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, the men’s high jump proved to be an exhausting contest. After two and three quarter hours, there was still no winner. Olympic high jumpers Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar an...
Published 1 December 2021
Article
Recovery: The forgotten aspect of high performance
Given the pandemic, everyone feels exhausted and stressed. Recovery is vital.​
Published 1 March 2021
Case Study
Jan van Hasenbroek (A): A “red-pencil” leader at a crossroads
Jan Van Hasenbroek, an entrepreneur founder and managing partner of IG&H consulting firm, is in trouble. He is known in his company as the “red pencil” manager for his micromanagement of consultant...
Published 25 June 2020
Where the wild things were
Book
Where the wild things were
What did we do once we knew? This book is written for both children and adults to entertain and educate. Join storytime as Grandma recounts her adventures withan alphabet of wild animals to her gra...
Published 1 October 2019
Choosing change: How leaders and organizations drive results one person at a time
Book
Choosing change: How leaders and organizations drive results one person at a time
What's your best opportunity for succeeding in business? If there's one certainty in business today, it's this: Change is coming your way. You have no choice in the matter. The choice you do have i...
Published 20 December 2013
Care to dare: Unleashing astonishing potential through secure base leadership
Book
Care to dare: Unleashing astonishing potential through secure base leadership
Have you ever been led by someone who cared for you like family, and dared you to achieve more than you ever thought possible for yourself, your organization, and even society? Award-winning author...
Published 4 September 2012
Academic publications
Care to dare: Unleashing astonishing potential through secure base leadership
Book
Care to dare: Unleashing astonishing potential through secure base leadership
Have you ever been led by someone who cared for you like family, and dared you to achieve more than you ever thought possible for yourself, your organization, and even society? Award-winning author...
Published 4 September 2012
Choosing change: How leaders and organizations drive results one person at a time
Book
Choosing change: How leaders and organizations drive results one person at a time
What's your best opportunity for succeeding in business? If there's one certainty in business today, it's this: Change is coming your way. You have no choice in the matter. The choice you do have i...
Published 20 December 2013
Book
Надежная база. Лидерство для руководителей высшего звена [Care to Dare]
Have you ever been led by someone who cared for you like family, and dared you to achieve more than you ever thought possible for yourself, your organization, and even society? Award-winning author...
Published 1 January 2015
Insight for Executives
What did we do once we knew? Rethinking growth in times of ecological collapse
Article
What did we do once we knew? Rethinking growth in times of ecological collapse
To transition from an extractive economy to a regenerative one, business leaders must engage in dialogue about how to shift mindsets from a culture of growth to a culture of limits.
Published 8 September 2022
Books to inspire, inform and entertain 
Article
Books to inspire, inform and entertain 
From dealing with burnout and bullsh*t to the joys of friendship and climbing mountains, IMD professors offer a varied choice of summer reading material.
Published 16 June 2022
Collective Genius? Cultivating creativity in business
Article
Collective Genius? Cultivating creativity in business
Fostering creativity is essential to unlock the potential of high-performing teams in order to solve the problems facing people and the planet today.
Published 7 May 2022
Article
Can we have two golds?
At the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, the men’s high jump proved to be an exhausting contest. After two and three quarter hours, there was still no winner. Olympic high jumpers Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar an...
Published 1 December 2021
Article
Message to ourselves: Seeking a congruent life
In today’s world, there is an increasing need to reconcile polarities for the benefit of people and the planet. By attuning to the messages within, we can work to heal the artificial divisions w...
Published 1 September 2021
Harness the Olympic spirit for sustainable success
Article
Harness the Olympic spirit for sustainable success
A victory-at-all-costs mindset is counterproductive. Olympians show how collaboration can help companies and society thrive.
Published 30 July 2021
Want to perform at your best? Take a rest!
Article
Want to perform at your best? Take a rest!
Business leaders can learn how to optimize performances by studying the training routines of Olympic athletes.
Published 23 July 2021
Six leadership myths debunked during the pandemic
Article
Six leadership myths debunked during the pandemic
In the past eighteen months, our world changed beyond recognition. Many taken-for-granted beliefs evaporated before our eyes. And some of these beliefs have been held for so long that they became m...
Published 18 May 2021
Have faith in your team when storms are raging
Article
Have faith in your team when storms are raging
As a successful yacht racer Mark Turner knows that one tiny slip can prove fatal, but in business he believes taking risks and making mistakes should be encouraged.
Published 16 March 2021
Report
Sita and IMD: Accelerating leadership transformation to drive culture change
In 2019, SITA – the world’s leading specialist in air transport communication and information technology – was looking to accelerate its transformation and culture change. CEO Barbara Dalibard had...
Published 1 March 2021
Article
Recovery: The forgotten aspect of high performance
Given the pandemic, everyone feels exhausted and stressed. Recovery is vital.​
Published 1 March 2021
Article
Unmuting ourselves: Learning to thrive in uncertainty
As we begin 2021, we look back on a year of uncertainty when our existing way of living was disrupted in both our professional and our personal lives. The coronavirus pandemic brought with it lockd...
Published 2 January 2021
Article
Awakening to act: Young business executives as role models
In June 2020, a report was released by the UN Global Compact and Russell Reynolds entitled Leadership for the Decade of Action. It studied the characteristics of sustainable business leaders. Inter...
Published 1 December 2020
Article
From leaders of mankind to custodians of livingkind
Our world is broken. In the words of Hong Kong-based senior executive, Paul Wright, we are experiencing a monumental fracture. The coronavirus pandemic is not an exception but rather an indicator o...
Published 1 September 2020
Article
Look after others by looking after self
In challenging times, leaders can support their people through the turbulence by being secure bases. To do this effectively, they must first be secure bases for themselves.
Published 1 June 2020
Article
Climate activists aren't just irking businesses. They're setting capitalism on fire
The ripples of youth activism and demands for sustainability are felt globally. It’s time for businesses to relook their goals.
Published 14 December 2019
Article
Combining diversity and inclusion (D&I) policies for the benefit of people and the planet: Why D&I is vital in our changing world
If every organisation embraced work on the SDGs, it would provide a practical approach for collective action. Introducing D&I Policies to protect the planet, as well as people, could be a powerful ...
Published 2 September 2019
Organizations need two diversity & inclusion policies – one for people and one for the planet
Article
Organizations need two diversity & inclusion policies – one for people and one for the planet
If we want to continue to flourish on this earth, we need to act to protect our planet. Organizations have a critical role to play if they can move from denial to awareness, from defense to accepta...
Published 1 April 2019
Article
The monkey bars of change: Let go, let be, let come
In summary, change is to be expected in our professional or personal life, and can be framed as an opportunity to learn and grow. Letting go is necessary in order to move ahead. Let go in order to ...
Published 1 March 2019
What did we do once we knew?
Article
What did we do once we knew?
Evidence that impact of human behavior on our planet is accelerating at unprecedented rates is raising pressure for business leaders to accept their role in stemming environmental destruction to re...
Published 21 January 2019
Where the wild things were
Book
Where the Wild Things Were
This is written for both children and adults to entertain and educate. Join storytime as Grandma recounts her adventures with an alphabet of wild animals to her granddaughter, Little Dove. But wit...
Published 1 January 0001
Choosing Change
Book
Choosing Change
If there's one certainty in business today, it's this: Change is coming your way. You have no choice in the matter. The choice you do have is either to embrace it or bury your head in the sand. In ...
Published 1 January 0001