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‘What leading with humanity means to you’

02 Jun 2020 | Advance HE Ahead of Leadership Summit 2020 - Leading with Humanity, some of the conference's speakers and panellists describe what leading with humanity means to them

Leading with humanity must be about how we lead our staff, our colleagues and our team members. But it will mean nothing if it isn’t also about our customers, our partners and our student body, near and far. And what interests me most about this, and particularly in these volatile times, is how well we hold ourselves to account for both constituencies.

Robin Ryde (Robin co-leads Advance HE's Top Management Programme for Higher Education - TMP HE. He is an author, leadership and organisation development (OD) expert, and former Chief Executive of the UK National School of Government.)

How do I understand humanity in leadership? For me it is about embracing human beings in their entirety. We cannot separate mental, physical, emotional and spiritual aspects any longer when talking about human beings and specifically about leadership. They are all valid, play an important role in shaping our identity, purpose and values as leaders and in our approaches to how we lead and show up with others. Leading with humanity is about compassion, kindness, open-mindedness, vulnerability as well as strength, direction and clarity. It is about embracing the diversity of who we are as leaders and the diversity of those who we lead.

Barbara Bassa (Barbara is Programme Director for Advance HE's Senior Women’s Leadership Development Programme.)

Leading with humanity – is there any other kind? If we consider the opposite it would be leading without humanity or leading inhumanely which doesn’t bear thinking about! Leading with humanity must always be front and centre for all of us as leaders and as followers. Leadership which embraces compassion, dignity, authenticity and respect are the aspects that resonate for me within this context.

Then in terms of my focus for the panel discussion I’m going to draw on some Wordsworthian thinking. It’s Wordsworth’s 250th birthday in 2020 and given my location I’d like to connect to some of his work as I think it fits nicely with leading with humanity. This is also then different to the previous panel discussion I’d done in March.

Emma Watton (Emma is the Programme Director of the Executive MBA at Lancaster University Management School in the UK.)

I think that the concept of leading with humanity is relatively easy; surely few would say that they actively seek to not lead in such a manner?
The conundrum is how we manage this in our ever-changing world where different members of our society have different and sometimes conflicting requirements and beliefs which can often be rooted in fear and insecurity.
To lead with humanity is to engender reciprocity of relationship, trust and respect where awareness flourishes and we work together, for the greater good. We recognise our collective vulnerability and seek to reassure by being responsive, by “having heart” and by being compassionate.

My focus for the panel contribution will be about self-awareness, understanding and knowledge and authenticity.

Dr Sally Jackson (Sally is a role model and mentor for the Advance HE's  Aurora programme and a member of WISE - Women in Science and Engineering.)

For me leading with humanity reminds us that everything we are trying to achieve and make happen, especially in a knowledge economy, is essentially contingent upon the quality of relationships through which we do it. We won’t see goodwill or trust or commitment on a balance sheet, nor perseverance or kindness or optimism or humour, but without these ways of being human together we cannot and will not be equal to the complex and apparently intensifying challenges we are having to lead through.

My panel contribution will be to talk about ‘appreciative leadership’ - its emphasis on inclusion, positivity and making high quality relationships, and the Appreciative Inquiry emphases on how we find what we expect (constructionist principle), the power of questions to lead our thinking (principle of simultaneity), how we define and amplify what we focus on through the stories we make and tell (poetic principle), the importance of hope and aspirations on how we act today (anticipatory principle) and the power of positivity to energise and sustain change (positive principle).

Mark Trezona (Mark is an Advance HE Associate and has been designing and delivering programmes for Advance HE, and before then with LFHE, for over six years.)

Advance HE's Leadership Summit 2020 - Leading with Humanity will now run as an online event on 10 June due to Covid-19. The summit will provide the opportunity for colleagues to share, debate and network to ensure a strong sector for the future. Click here for more information and to book your place.


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