Developing Great Leaders: The Human Workplace Perspective

Guest post from Andy Swann:

develop great leaders, we need to develop everyone.
In the modern world of work, being a leader doesn’t require a job title, it’s
something any or all of us can take responsibility for. Sure, some of us agree
to be tasked with it, but that doesn’t mean those are the limits of leadership
in any given organization.

the years, I have discovered many examples of instances where individuals and
teams had taken the initiative to do something they believed was in the best
interests of the organization, even when it put their jobs at risk. It’s this
kind of entrepreneurial spirit that needs to be nurtured in all workplaces and
forms the basis of great leadership in leading by example. Whether through
giving permission explicitly, or creating the freedom for people to thrive in
their own way, great leadership often just needs the organization to get out of
the way and allow it to happen, rather than try to actively develop it.

organizations today are different.

an age where increasingly, we can get robots to do the robotic jobs, what we
really need people for is what they are great at – being people. It’s
individuality that unlocks the future of great work and by unleashing people,
we allow them to create impact in very real ways – through creativity,
collaboration, communication, compassion and other human traits. These things
are the basis of innovation, which in turn is the basis of a successful future,
so by enabling people to thrive, we enable organizations to succeed.

all restrictions and creating a free-for-all where anyone can do anything with
no accountability will always fail, but by starting from a position of freedom
and implementing only the absolutely required parameters (#1 don’t break the
law!), people are given license and opportunity to try things in the interest
of the organization. There is evidence of this working within organizations as
simple as the software startup Rarely Impossible, through to the most complex
global players like Schneider Electric and Microsoft. The question is about
responsibility and empowering the individuals.

organizations are platforms for people, because for an organization to thrive,
it only needs three things – the right people, in the right places, doing the
right things. Leaders, both those tasked with the responsibility and those who assume
it, are the guardians and enablers of that platform. Think of them as the
helpful pointers that pop up when you use an app to show you how to get the
most from the interface and use it properly.

may seem like a simplistic view, but time and time again, the examples I
encountered showed that when acting as a platform for people, organizations can
achieve great things. When the basis of the organizational platform is the
right people, everyone and anyone can be a leader, because the platform is set
up to allow them to act in the interest of the organization at all times.
Leadership becomes natural!

an organization wants to actively develop leaders though, it needs to guide
them as platform builders and skill them to:

to user feedback objectively.

solutions to problems (fix bugs in the platform).

the needs of the user base.

short, they need to be human.

expert Chris Barez-Brown believes that leadership should be refocused in two
ways. If leaders are both creative and conscious, they become aware enough to
understand what is required and do what it takes to remove that barriers to
their colleagues (and the organization) thriving.

great leaders is about enabling people to thrive and ensuring that in turn,
they enable others. It’s simple, better and more human.

, author of THE
the development and delivery of people-focused transition management at BDG
Architecture + Design.  He is also the
founder of Simple Better Human, a creative organization development
consultancy. Swann runs the All About People conference and speaks around the
world on the benefits of taking a more human approach to organizational

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