I am starting out, rather uncertainly, on a quest.
I want to promote heart-centred leadership, intuitive and nurturing in style. I believe this is what the world needs today, to create organisations for the 21st century that release the potential of the people within them rather than trying to define them as narrow functions within a process and treating them as assets to be exploited. To solve the complex and interrelated global problems we face today, we need to create a sustainable world that provides for everyone and everything.
I am slightly scared as I write this. I do not know how I am going to do it. I barely know where to start. But I do believe it is vital to bring about this change, that it is overdue, and that I have a responsibility and a desire to play a part in making it happen. I should add that I don’t know what that part is yet but I am starting right here, right now.
This is a statement of my intent. It is also a rallying call to others who want to see this change. Let’s connect and collaborate, multiplying our power and reach, feeding and inspiring each other, and spreading the word as widely as we can.
I feel that I have embodied this style of leadership throughout my career, or something very like it, and I put this down to the fact that my first experience of corporate life was in a rather unusual organisation. My first job was at Prestel, a part of BT that had been set up as an autonomous unit to ‘break the rules’ and innovate. It was unusual because it was very entrepreneurial for its time, and because it had many women holding senior management positions. This created what I can now see was an enlightened environment and culture, one that was egalitarian, civil and collegiate in style. It had an enormous impact on my ideal of what a business culture should be, and on how I should manage and lead.
Of course, it is possible that I am looking back through rose-tinted spectacles but I am sure it was a kinder, more supportive and respectful workplace. It was also incredibly creative, which I believe was a direct product of this unique culture. Prestel is often dismissed as a failure of British technology but in fact it was the proving ground for many ideas that succeeded elsewhere, and for many individuals who went on to achieve great things.
More recently I have become interested in new ways of organising, inspired by Frederick Laloux’s seminal book “Reinventing Organisations” and the Design Thinking, Agile and Lean Startup movements. In our VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous), we need organisations that are adaptable, ones where people are encouraged to bring their whole selves to work and to pursue a common purpose. This means a non-hierarchical approach with a high level of autonomy, requiring a different type of shared leadership.
I want everyone to enjoy their work, and to see the end of the bullying and abuse that I, along with many others, have had to endure in our professional lives. Over 70% of people are not engaged in their jobs, with nearly 25% actively dis-engaged. That is a shocking indictment of the business culture we have today, and of the prevalent leadership style. What is worse is that it is entirely unnecessary, a waste of human potential and resources, and wholly ineffective. Organisations that put their people first have been proven time and again to be more creative, innovative and profitable and, most importantly, are places where people can be engaged and fulfilled.
This is the difference I want to see. I believe heart-centred leadership is the key and I want to use it to unlock a brighter future.
I also seek to be a Heart-centred Leader and that is why, living by the key values of openness and vulnerability, I am sharing this with the world.
If this speaks to you then let’s connect and join together to realise our shared vision.
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