Leadership in the 21st century: Relearning to be human

A great opportunity to reconnect with our humanity

A great opportunity to reconnect with our humanity

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This provocative phrase, so simple and at the same time so forceful, opens a very pertinent article recently published in the Harvard Business Review* which looks into why it is that managers have forgotten to be human beings.

As human beings, we have a need for meaning, to connect with others and an unequivocal desire to contribute to something bigger than ourselves. As leaders, the article continues, we must put being human before being managers. They share a reflection on how to put into practice and delve into those capacities that humanize us, starting out from being the most individual and emotional of beings, the most self-aware and detached yet with an active and genuine compassion for others.

We are aware that, within little more than a decade, artificial intelligence and robots alone will wipe out 800 million jobs*. Thus, if possible, we should dedicate ourselves more than ever before to unlearning what machines can do, and will certainly do even better in leaps and bounds going forward, and relearn what it is that makes us more human, immersing ourselves in the art of practice, in investigation and of how to achieve that as a team.

Margaret Wheatley shares a thought in the poem What this World Needs;  “This world does not need more entrepreneurs, this world does not need more technological breakthroughs. This world needs leaders. We need leaders who put service over self, who can be steadfast through crises and failures, who want to stay present and make a difference to the people, situations and causes they care about.”

The 21st century is a time full of challenges and possibilities on a scale never seen before. And at the same time it offers a magnificent opportunity to reconnect with our humanity, with our essence, with the signals transmitted to us by our emotions, instincts and reason. Let us re-imagine what makes us unique, nurture our capacity for critical thought, reinforce our creative strength on a daily basis and collaborate collectively to find ways of dealing with the challenges of an ever more complex and fascinating reality. How could we become better humans?


** McKinsey Global Institute, https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/jobs-lost-jobs-gained-what-the-future-of-work-will-mean-for-jobs-skills-and-wages

About the author:

Max Oliva, a teacher and engineer with postgraduate qualifications, is an international entrepreneur. Max is co-founder of Impact Hub, one of the world’s most influential entrepreneur networks. He undertakes projects, gives classes and conducts workshops in more than 20 countries.