The Future: Data Driven – People Centered Leadership

After Covid 19 what does the future hold for all of us? What kind of leadership do we need for such a complex world? Covid 19 to date has certainly shown us our weaknesses and limitations and shined a glaring light on our problems as a society and especially in governing ourselves. Many of our organizational management techniques such as just in time only work when society is stable and supply chains not disrupted.

Shareholder value at all costs seems attractive except when it creates an unlivable environment and leaves the necessary consumers unable to find the resources they need to survive. The cost of Insulin going up 1200% is desirable for some and deadly for others. Jamming local beaches in a pandemic is freedom from boredom for some and again deadly for others. Social responsibility is critical for a functioning society, business, school, food processing, growing season and much of our humanity. I could list many other awareness’s from this Covid 19 experience so far.

Leadership couldn’t be more crucially needed in 2020 and going forward. Since our leaders are human beings, when they get fearful, the executive part of their brain shuts off as it does for every human. Thus, if not careful, we all make default network decisions from a pre-programmed past whether idyllic, difficult, authoritarian or libertarian, for example. The default network is the one that looks for the comfort of the familiar and what worked before in a different time and place much like the example of milk and cookies or hiding in the closet. If collaboration or cooperation are not part of our default network, chaos ensues.

I would not say that I am an expert on the integration of data-driven and human-centered but years of learning, experience and knowledge equip me to talk about the need for both. There are writers far more experienced with successful data-driven, people-centered leadership than I. Two books that can describe the history, experiments and success stories are Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella’s book, Hit Refresh and Harvard professor Rebecca Henderson’s book, Reinventing Capitalism. Both show how companies can actually be both more human-centered, successful and even more profitable with something Rebecca Henderson calls shared value and Satya Nadella names people-centered. He speaks about the value of empathy and many large corporations are promoting empathy in their organizations today. The change will not be easy but Rebecca suggests that if we start with sectors of industry that are successfully accomplishing the change now, it can have impetus. The Neuroleadership Institute is researching, writing and talking about a revamp of how leaders are developed which is more brain and human friendly and creating not just a new normal but a better normal.

When most of us think about the phrase and activity of data-driven we are spun into the cold hard world of dehumanizing technology and the digital revolution that portends robots instead of humans doing all the jobs with artificial intelligence making the decisions. Others talk of moving beyond shareholder profit at all costs. Both the World Economic Forum at Davos and the U S Business Roundtable declared a future of Stakeholder Leadership, a broader form of business culture which includes the environment, employees and citizens. Satya Nadella’s book creates a vision of integrated technology serving humanity. Rebecca Henderson’s book describes a mission of civics replacing political division and the collaboration of business, government and citizens tackling the problems of today. The two books mentioned above can show us worlds where technology becomes a useful tool in the service of fact, human wisdom and empathy.

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