Meet the Human-Focused Leaders of 2021

2 minute read

The People Space is running a year-long series showcasing HR and other executive leaders who are exemplary practitioners of human-focused leadership in partnership with management consultancy 10Eighty

Sian Harrington

Meet the Human-Focused Leaders of 2021

The People Space is excited to kick off a new year-long series today where we will be showcasing HR and other executive leaders who are exemplary practitioners of human-focused leadership.

Building on the themes identified as being vital for success in our disruptive age in research by our brand partner 10Eighty last year the series will feature leaders who demonstrate behaviours and expertise in five core areas: People First, And Beyond leadership, Technology and Communications, Agility and Collaboration.

Through video interviews and articles we will discover how these Human-Focused Leaders are putting these themes into practice and why they are essential skills for the successful leader of today and tomorrow. Plus, take away practical tips from our featured leaders.

According to Vlatka Hlupic, CEO at The Management Shift Consulting, and Paola Gallo, adjunct professor at Bocconi University, humane leadership must be the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s (4IR) real innovation.

In an article for the World Economic Forum they say: “The 4IR has a disruptive effect on leadership: the old model, the carrot and stick, toxic leadership and organisations based on fear and control do not work. A new model is needed, a model where leadership has not only a functioning radar to understand what is happening across the company, but also a moral compass to steer the ship in the right direction, guided by ethical choices and responsibilities. Not merely a change, but a true shift towards humane leadership, where trust and respect permeate organisations.”

Joan O'Connor, head of leadership development at 10Eighty, says we sometimes forget that, at the end of the day, we are all just human beings at work and so it is vital leaders have a human focus – especially given we are still in such uncertain times.

“We know from all the research that individuals in organisations thrive when they feel valued, when they feel that their managers and their leaders take an interest in them and treat them as human beings, not just resources to do work. And then these individuals will be more productive and more inclined to want to give their best. Organisations that have given that level of human focus to their people and their employee experience in the past year are the ones that will win,” she says.

We start the series today with an interview with Kristin Thornby, vice president of people at California-based graph technology company Neo4j. Thornby has a proven track record of scaling businesses, while preserving and enriching company culture and has worked at a range of interesting tech-based organisations including cybersecurity firm ObserveIT as well as Paris-headquartered multinational advertising and public relations company Publicis Groupe, where she hired 1,200 employees a year. She has joined Neo4j at a time of major expansion for the company, which helps global brands including NASA, UBS and Volvo to reveal and predict how people, processes and systems are interrelated. Applications include fraud detection, real-time recommendations and knowledge graphs.

Thornby is sharing her insights into collaboration and has some interesting examples of where it can fall down and how HR can enable collaboration in the organisation. You can watch the interview here.

We would like to know who you think we should feature over the year. Who is demonstrating the leadership skills of today and tomorrow? Please do send me your thoughts or pop them on Twitter using the hashtag #HFL21 and we look forward to showcasing them over the year.

Published 10 March 2021
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