The New Leadership Buzz Words?

Are “caring” and “humility” the new leadership buzz words?

A recent report from Harvard Graduate School of Education titled Making Caring Common (www.makingcaringcommon.org/) talks about the need to foster human kindness, authentic intellectual engagement and service to others in our best and brightest students, the leaders of tomorrow.  The report rails against a culture of individual over achievement at the expense of human values and community awareness.  Aware of the inherent dangers of toxic leadership, the report advocates for a shift towards greater authenticity in education and in our emerging leaders.   

Another recent study titled the Catalyst Study, reported in the Harvard Review (May 12, 2014), of more than 1,500 workers from Australia, China, Germany, India, Mexico and the US found that when employee observed leaders who showed humility such as admitting and learning from mistakes; empowering their team to learn and develop; and promoting acts of courage and personal risk taking for the greater good, were likely to report feeling included in their workplace.  Perceiving instances of altruistic behaviour from their leader, employees reported being more innovative, more likely to engage in team citizenship behaviour, improving their productivity and supporting the team when a colleague is absent. 

An authentic leader who lacks hubris, has greater humility, has the potential to increase employee morale and is closer to the ideal of the sort of leadership modelled by Ghandi, Mandela, or more recently, Obama.  This sort of leader is more interested in creating a paradigm of healthy cultural change, communitarian values and a corporate environment leading to improved productivity, improved well being, employee loyalty, and acceptance of diversity.  Competition still exists but not at the expense of humanity.   

This sort of inspired leader: 

  • Shows humility
  • Listens in equal measure to talking
  • Accepts responsibility for mistakes
  • Is inspired by service to others and inspires service in others
  • Plays to people’s strengths
  • Promotes collaboration
  • Passionate about ethics
  • Creates emotional safety through kindness and compassion
  • Leads by example: guiding, mentoring and coaching others
  • Facilitates authentic intellectual engagement
  • Innovates by creating an environment comfortable with risk
  • Is honest

The organisational impact of this sort of leader is staff retention, talent management, increased productivity, high morale, diversity, shared values, innovation and supported risk taking, authentic intellectual engagement, values emotional intelligence, and genuine communication.

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