Leadership SuperSkills, the pathway to Human Centred Leadership.

We have moved from a stable and predictable world to a world of unprecedented uncertainty and complexity, requiring a totally different set of leadership skills, behaviours, and mindset.

Consider all the advancements in technology, the uncertainty of how AI will impact us, the platitudes of new mobile apps and gaming, organization restructures, software implementations, digital transformations, increasing levels of violence all around us, the COVID-19 pandemic, and now the Russian invasion of Ukraine creating the threat of a world war and potential use of nuclear weapons; each creating layer after layer of uncertainty, complexity, and change. Everywhere we turn someone of something is vying for our attention to a point that we are now living in an attention deficient economy. All this to say, we are dealing with more stress and strain than most of us have ever navigate in our lifetime.

The result, 1/3 of us have depression and/or anxiety, as announced by the World Economic Forum a few months ago; and depending on which survey you look at, over 50% to 60% of us have burnout, create fog brain, exhaustion, demotivation, and lower confidence about our decision or what we do. 

One thing is clear, something must change and since we can’t change anything happening around us, a good place to start is with how we receive and navigate how all these things impact us. In fact, our level of success as we move forward will have more to with our own ability to manage our own emotions than any other factor. 

Regardless if you’re the leader of a multinational conglomerate, the leader of your own small business or something in between, we need to shift the way we think about leadership. The tools we used to get to where we are at today, namely a Business Centred approach, will not get us to where we want to go moving forward. Moving forward we will need to adopt a Human Centred approach, which incorporates: 

  • Your knowledge and business leadership capabilities 
  • an understanding of core human needs
  • emotional intelligence 
  • basic understanding of neuroscience. 

So what’s the difference between Business Centred leadership and Human Centred? Graphic 1 below will provide you some insight.

You may be saying to yourself: why do I have to give up on what has continued to work for me? Or, this ‘Human’ thing is too soft, we need to drive for outcomes! The truth is you’re right, you don’t have to change, but please take a moment to consider the follow before you decide.

  • Adopting a Human Centred leadership is about building on your current leadership knowledge and capabilities, not throwing it out. It’s more about making necessary adjustment to adapt to our new environment to realise increases in both performance and wellbeing. 

Business Centred leadership is largely based on command and control, and uses more authoritative leadership, which is based on fear and intimidation. These leadership behaviours decrease psychological safety and trust with staff, which has a direct correlation to performance output. Paul Zak’s research(?) found that organisations with higher levels of trust over their counterparts with lower trust realized 50% higher productivity, 13% lower sick days, 76% higher engagement, 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, and 40% lower burnout.

Emotous’ primary research and research out of 6Seconds shows that positive emotions, such as joy and trust expand our cognitive flexibility(?), thus people can better navigate the uncertainty and complexity more effectively. At the same time, fear and sadness diminish our cognitive flexibility, especially in key areas required for high performance, such as:

  • Collaboration
  • Resilience
  • Adaptability
  • Critical Thinking
  • Imagination
  • Proactivity
  • Commitment
  • and overall Brain Agility 

Adopting Human Centred leadership is about building on your current Business Centred leadership knowledge and capabilities and making necessary adjustment to adapt to your new environment to realise increases in both performance and wellbeing. 

Review the graph below and reflect on where you sit in the graph and what adjustments might be needed to move up into the top righthand quadrant ‘Highly Effective Leadership’.

So how to we build these new leadership competencies to move up into the Highly Effective Leadership quadrant? Let me introduce you to Leadership SuperSkills. These competencies have been determined by understanding what impacts cognitive flexibility and building that into the Leadership SuperSkills model shown below in Graphic 3:

We can build these Leadership SuperSkills through the development of emotional intelligence and using your EQ competencies to increase competency in each of these new leadership skill areas.

The effectiveness of the Leadership SuperSkills model has been validated by participants that completed the program just prior to COVID (Dec – Feb 2020) and were retested six months following the initial impact of the pandemic. We found a 10% variance in Effectiveness and Emotional Intelligence between those who completed the program and their counterparts that had not.


Author: John Dare, Emotous CEO   |   Published: Friday 28th January 2022