Why it’s time for training and development professionals to ditch traditional notions of leadership


Anyone can become a good leader – no matter who you are, your personality traits, or where you come from, anyone can learn leadership skills.

Being a good leader is not about being confident, outgoing, extroverted, or dominating. It is not necessary to take any training to become a CEO or to become a senior manager, although it often features in many HR strategies.

Leadership is open source. It’s about all of us, without exception. This means the democratization of leadership; it means not falling into the historical trap of letting a few patriarchs define and live it. This allows HR to be inclusive and expansive, and to rejuvenate the human in all of us.

What’s wrong with leadership?

Well, a lot of things: from what leadership looks like, who we care about as leaders, to the mechanisms that tell us how to be a leader, to the imposed definitions of what leadership is.

We need to create new cultures of leadership that add to those that already exist, radically and immediately.

We must create radical new cultures of leadership – now!

Creative leadership could be the answer for many HR teams. This concept is explored in my first book, Creative Leadership: Born from Design, which challenges outdated models of leadership that still bind us to the tired rhetoric of leadership as command.

These three undervalued but impactful human values ​​address the shortcomings of leadership and, in turn, the changes that can affect the boardroom, the workplace, and society at large.

The model has been shaped and refined over the past ten years to arrive at a framework based on these ideas:

  • Most of us can access and develop the three values ​​below.
  • Creativity is a universal ability to develop ideas that have a positive impact on ourselves and others.
  • Empathy is the hallmark of a 21st century leader and is now recognized as a signature value.
  • Clarity is the link that aligns vision, direction, and communication in any personal endeavor, organization, or project.

Redefining the term

We all have leadership ability. Leadership is not the stereotype of the fit CEO, president-elect, medal-winning general or “letter of the law” manager.

Every day, we all need to be leaders in different aspects of our lives, so we need to extend the recognition of leadership from business to all of our lives. HR should integrate, not separate.

Leadership is not the stereotype of the fit CEO, president-elect, medal-winning general or “letter of the law” manager.

True leadership begins with you. Lead yourself, and then you can lead others. Leadership is not just enhanced by someone else or permeated by organizational culture. It doesn’t just rely on structure and strategy – it also thrives on the emotions and intentions of the individual.

We are the best incubators for our own leadership. Catalyst change may be external, but true evolution begins within.

However, the most taught leadership is for formal business and management. Traditional notions of leadership can seem very top-down and exclusive.

This is even evident in the language used, with terms such as ‘on top’, ‘big cheese’ and ‘being a boss’ still heard in boardrooms and virtual meetings around the world.

Synonyms of the word “leadership” seem threatening, with “command”, “control”, “authority” and “superiority” presented as alternatives. With this posture of power, leadership can seem somewhat inhuman.

Leaders exist in multiplicity, not singularity or duality. Although empathy, clarity, and creativity can be considered separate, they are not meant to be stand-alone components.

Traditional notions of leadership can seem very top-down and exclusive.

The real transformation occurs in the interaction of these terms. Each alone is not enough to enable holistic leadership, but when working together they enable a powerfully progressive balance.

Combined, these three values ​​transform leadership; separated, they limit it.

Define “creative leadership”?

“creative leadership” is for three types of people: established leaders, emerging leaders, and the biggest group of them all – those just starting out on their leadership journey.

These last two groups are most relevant to HR and often require and require the most time and attention for personal growth.

Although the book’s slogan is “Born from Design”, it is not just a book for designers. It’s for the creativity that lives in everyone. However, it started with my life as a designer where cases of human exclusion regularly impacted my work.

The same sun sets and rises on all of us every day. But that day can bring a radically different experience depending on your abilities, health, gender, race, geography, or economic background – just some of the many aspects of human diversity that don’t. are often not taken into account.

I hope my remarks will speak directly to an issue facing departments, staff and human resource managers globally, namely the growing demand and focus on equality, diversity and inclusiveness. This is a powerful course of action – a blueprint for human resources and development.

This book will give you the strategies for change, the stories of challenges, and help you articulate your aspirations as you grow and develop the leaders of tomorrow.


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