Humane capital

Vlatka Ariaana Hlupic is professor of Leadership and Management at Hult International Business School (Ashridge), founder and CEO of Management Shift Solutions Limited, and author of Humane Capital

The research captured amongst 58 CEOs and C-Suite interviewees from around the world focuses on organisations making the leap from a traditional ‘command and control’ mindset where employees are told what they should do, and the organisation survives, to an ‘enthusiastic’ mindset where there is a strong teamwork ethos, where collaboration, integrity, purpose, transparency, accountability and a caring culture are embedded into the organisation so that it can thrive.

Research has shown that only 20% of people globally are engaged at work. This means that 80% are not fully engaged, and companies are missing out on higher employee performance, profitability, reduced staff turnover and better customer service.

On the other hand, companies that create an environment in which employees thrive, enjoy being more innovative and creative. If a company’s employees are engaged, they will work much harder to achieve their targets. In the long-term, this is a key differentiator for their success in the 21st-century workplace.

The research shows that a shift from the ‘command and control’ to the ‘enthusiastic’ mindset is not easy to accomplish and that it has to come from the top. The CEO is in pole position to make this happen, but needs to be supported by everyone around them, especially the board. Line managers can create internal barriers and resistance which need to be overcome if culture change is to stick.

Humane leadership teaches us to lead people with compassion, empathy, and dignity, and equally importantly to honour their interdependence. This not only helps them to feel more fulfilled but also more energised, motivated and resilient.

The eight pillars of humane leadership are most effectively led through visionary leadership and the creation of a strong sense of purpose, meaning, community and belonging. Another important finding was that a caring culture was most often mentioned as being a key element, which permeates throughout every aspect of an organisation – from its supply chain ethos, to working conditions for employees and how customers are treated.

The eight pillars of humane leadership

The 8 pillars of humane leadership that could lead to better engagement and evolutionary change include:

-Mindset of leaders and employees


-Higher purpose

-Values and their alignment

-Aligning of people and systems

-Self-organisation of employees in communities

-Caring ethos

-Organisational learning processes

Research shows that one of the key components to creating a high performing, enthusiastic work culture is when employees align themselves with company values

The following sections describe these pillars

Mindset of leaders and employees

Leaders and employees may have different mindsets that are related to The Management Shift 5-Level Model (also known as the Emergent Leadership Model), which is based on five levels of mindset and organisational culture.

Each level is characterised by distinct attitudes, beliefs, behaviours, emotions, language, leadership behaviour and organisational outcomes. Levels 1, 2, and 3 are distinguished by ‘command and control’ and autocratic leadership.

A fundamental change happens when individuals and an organisation shift their mindset and culture from Level 3 to Level 4, where mindset is ‘enthusiastic’ and culture ‘collaborative’. At that level, everything improves, from performance and engagement to innovation and profit.

Level 5 is set apart by ‘limitless’ mindset and ‘unbounded’ culture. This is where highly innovative teams work on solving large, global problems, driven by purpose and love for humanity. At this level, teams achieve that which was thought impossible to achieve before.

When individuals shift their mindset from one level to another, their attitude and enthusiasm can radiate out to other people. First, leaders need to understand what an enthusiastic high-performance culture looks and feels like. It is not just about positive thinking, but rather having a mindset that has energy and enthusiasm with focus on solutions instead of problems.


We all have a certain level of motivation and mindset that we operate from. Employees who are rooted at Level 4 will drive themselves to achieve at whatever they do, while those employees that are anchored at lower levels, are not as driven or passionate about their work, they lack focus and determination.

The Harvard Business Review published an article on this topic stating how important it is for companies’ employees and managers to maintain high spirits by having positive thoughts throughout the day; studies show these positive emotions lead directly towards improved performance levels both professionally and privately.

Higher purpose

The best businesses are those that make employees feel as if they are part of a larger purpose. When people love what their job entails and enjoy the company, it is easier for them to invest high levels of effort to produce great results because these individuals know how important their contributions really are; not just on paper but also internally with other dependant co-workers, and together contributing to a wider society. Transparency is key when trying to get everyone involved.

Values and their alignment

Research shows that one of the key components to creating a high-performing, enthusiastic work culture is when employees align themselves with company values.

The more personal beliefs match up with your business’ mission statement or vision for success—the happier and thus more productive employees will be as well.

By making this connection between what we do at our jobs every day (in essence living out these principles) versus just doing tasks, people can get excited about helping build something great together: a team spirit leads inevitably to greater levels of productivity among all parties involved. Aligning what people do in their personal life with what they do at work is one key to unlocking human potential.

Aligning of people and systems

Humanising an organisation starts with aligning people and systems that support their jobs. This is a crucial component in making firms more people-centred places to work and less like factories or stores.

In many industries today, the conventional office has been replaced by hybrid teams made up of individuals who come together on projects; managers will need better communication skills because they can no longer rely solely upon ‘command and control’ techniques for motivation. To get the most out of technology, you must first get the most out of people.

Self-organisation of employees in communities

The best employees collaborate and assist each other when they are permitted to self-organise. This is because the freedom in an open environment helps individuals to try out new ways of functioning that are not bound by organisational structure.

For example, workers who may experiment with office spaces without fixed desks or hierarchies; this also gives them room for creativity which can lead to further ideas and innovation.

Caring ethos

Caring firms show their care for personnel by implementing methods and behaviours to demonstrate support and appreciation. This leaves employees in the company feeling valued as individuals and not just a means towards an end, and this contributes towards a high-performance culture where people go above and beyond for customers and their organisation.

In a statement by Jules Goddard cited in ‘Humane Capital’, there are three compelling reasons why UK businesses should make the shift, or if they have already made the shift to then reinforce it and push even harder to get to Level 4/5. The three reasons are: commercial, societal, and moral.

Organisational learning processes

The importance of learning and development plans cannot be overstated, as this can lead to better motivation and engagement. This will motivate staff members to stay loyal and provide a framework for advancement, which ultimately benefits the employer, because turnover rates decrease significantly when people feel there is opportunity to succeed within an organisation.

Embedding organisational learning within organisational processes will help creation and dissemination of knowledge, it will support learning and motivate employees to remain in such an environment.

In summary

In times like these, it is critical for businesses to adopt the 8 pillars of humane leadership in order to achieve a permanent culture change, not only to survive but also to achieve evolutionary change for long-term prosperity.

When organisations make the leap from a traditional ‘command and control’ mindset where employees are told what they should do and the organisation survives, to an ‘enthusiastic’ mindset with a strong teamwork ethos, the organisation will thrive.

People truly have the power to make a difference. Create the right job, assign the right people, and then empower them to make the right decisions, to learn and to collaborate. By utilising people power, organisations can save expenses while also developing their business into a 21st-century powerhouse.

This article was originally published in Global Focus Magazine.