Humanising Leadership

Image courtesy of Deb and Dave and FD Toys

“Leadership is not so much about technique and methods as it is about opening the heart. Leadership is about inspiration—of oneself and of others. Great leadership is about human experiences, not processes. Leadership is not a formula or a program, it is a human activity that comes from the heart and considers the hearts of others. It is an attitude, not a routine.”

— Lance Secretan, Industry Week, October 12, 1998

I havent blogged for a while as felt a bit blogged out towards the end of my previous 3 MOOCs. I have now had a couple of weeks down time and enjoyed some good walks. I have also started 2 new MOOCs, Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence and Introduction to Psychology.

The start to the ILEI course has been fascinating as I have been forced to think about previous leaders I have worked with, but it has also made me think about how I come across to people.

But what makes a great leader?

According to the course professor, Richard Boyatzis;

The best leaders build or rebuild resonant relationships. These are relationships in which the leader is in tune with or in sync with the people around him or her.


outstanding leaders know that the music of leadership is emotions. And that people who are really good at leadership are able to help inspire, and help us manage our emotions in the process.

We then went on to learn about the 3 categories of competencies that need to be fulfilled in order to be an effective leader, social (concerns your relationships with people around you) emotional (being aware of your own emotions and how to manage them) and cognitive (basically concerns how you view and make sense of the world around you).

What you may notice about everything so far is how big a factor emotions and relationships play in this field. I wasn’t surprised that emotions play a role, I have worked with enough ineffective leaders who just weren’t ‘people’ people, but I was surprised at just how big a part they play. When I first started in the world of work, and with little experience, I alway put “people skills” on my CV because I thought it sounded good and I could blag it in an interview, something I couldn’t do with a “tangible” skill. People skills was then considered to be a “soft” skill. Something that mainly women possessed and particularly those working in the customer services industry.

It is only with experience that you realise how a leader can make or break an organisation and make individuals feel about themselves. In years gone by qualities such as ruthlessness, emotionless, toughness, cognitive intelligence, powerfulness were considered to be good qualities for a leader. Thankfully this is changing (slowly in some industries) and I found this article in Forbes interesting. Notice how many of the qualities could be considered “soft”; honesty, sense of humour, communication, creativity, intuition and a positive attitude. You may not agree with all the qualities, or consider others to be more important, but there is no escaping the fact that what is considered to be good qualities for leaders is changing.

I look forward to learning more about this subject and, hopefully, myself and my colleagues in the process. However, age is a great teacher and I have come to realise that it is the little things that have the biggest impacts. As an effective leader we don’t need some grandiose gesture or successfully conquer the world (although if you do succeed at this please use your new found power wisely and kindly), it’s the little things that count. This Ted talk by Drew Dudley sums it up for me.