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About Dean Williams

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Originally from Australia, Dean Williams is president of The Leaders Compass, an international consultancy and research organization, based in Singapore.

He is the author of “Real Leadership: Helping People and Organizations Face Their Toughest Challenges.” His latest book is, “Leadership for a Fractured World: How to Cross Boundaries, Build Bridges, and Lead Change.” Both books are published by Berrett-Koehler.

Dean was a faculty member at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government from 1999 to 2019, based at the Center for Public Leadership. He has also twice served as a visiting professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore.

For the past 14 years he has led Social Leadership Singapore, an important program bringing leaders from government, business and the social sector together to share experiences and build leadership capacity to address the nation’s social challenges. Dean has trained more than 2000 leaders from the public, private and civic society sectors in Singapore and his work has been consistently rated as both excellent and outstanding. He has also conducted customised, in-house leadership development interventions for senior management teams in Singapore. Dean designed and led signature Real Leadership Singapore and The Art of Leadership (AoL): Crossing Boundaries, Building Bridges, and Leading Change program for the senior leaders in the civil service focusing on  leading organisational change. The AoL program is conducted in partnership with Civil Service College from 2018-2020.

At Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership, he was responsible for the World Leaders Project – a research initiative that drew lessons and insights on leadership from successful (and some unsuccessful) world leaders. He also designed and chaired the popular executive education course called “The Global Change Agent,” where more than 60 change agents from around the world gathered each year at Harvard to enhance their capacity to lead and orchestrate change.

He served for six years as the Chief Adviser to the President of Madagascar (2003-2009), leading one of the most innovative development reforms in Africa. He helped the president and his cabinet in all aspects of leadership and policy formulation and implementation. 


He has led major change processes, facilitated leadership development initiatives, and conducted extensive research with governments, corporations, or educational systems in India, Australia, Nigeria, Singapore, Brunei, Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam, East Timor, the Philippines, Mongolia, Japan, Cambodia, Europe, Columbia, Brazil, Mexico, the Middle East, the United Kingdom, Germany, Greece, and the United States. 

He currently is the director of the Social Leadership Singapore program, an intensive leadership development initiative that has been contributing to building capacity for Singapore’s government and social sector since 2009.


Dean earned both Master’s and Doctoral degrees from Harvard University, specializing in leadership studies and organizational development. His dissertation was on the Matsushita Seikei-Juku in Japan, studying a unique process of leadership development. As a doctoral student, Dean spent two years on the island of Borneo studying adaptation and change in nomadic tribes, and also served as a senior adviser to the Sultanate of Brunei based in the Prime Minister’s Office.


Dean is now completing his next book, “The Adaptive Leadership Process”, a guide book on how to be a dynamic agent of change and provide effective leadership to address complex adaptive challenges.

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