HUMANIZE by Anthony Howard
In this brilliant book Anthony Howard tackles the question: Why human-centered leadership is the key to the 21st century? Tomorrow’s world will be one of technological progress especially as we witness in the digital revolution. While technology has introduced a number of time-saving devices into our lives, yet we seem to have less time than ever before to do anything. There are very few jobs that allow you to leave the office or your boss behind. In brief, you live in a wired world which is always “on” and never “off.” This matters because if you cannot find the time to think, you may excel technologically, but you risk losing your humanity.
Howard believes that contemporary society lacks a safe harbor and is adrift on a moral sea. Quoting renowned Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel, he says: “without ever deciding to do so, we drifted from having a market economy to a market society.”
A lot of people experience moral uncertainty and lack direction. The traditional authority figures found in businesses, government and society have lost their moral authority. Where is tomorrow’s leadership to come from? The leaders of tomorrow will understand people. They will know how to make choices that promote human well-being, what it means to put people first.
With the advent of smart machines that can imitate human beings, machine culture has been humanized while the mechanization of human beings has dehumanized people. While we spend enormous amounts of time and money on developing machines, we have forgotten human development blinded by the idea that people are merely units of economic production. The solution lies in human-centered leaders who put people first and integrate the technical with the moral aspects of life.
To live a human-centered life, one must forge four kinds of relationships. One is with the own self, the second is immediate family and friends, then comes the relationship with society and the global community while the last is with the transcendental or the spiritual aspect of life. The way you manage these relationships will bring out the best in you and will prove vital in meeting the challenges the world confronts you with and will be critical to your successful leadership.
Since leadership involves people not just economic or strategic relationships but personal relationships, it goes without saying that true leadership is human-centered. Leadership starts with being and manifests in doing. This is the primary focus of human-centered leaders. It is the distinction between the inner foundation of leadership and the outward manifestation of leadership actions. Character guides your actions while actions shape your character. Character is the place where you are standing. Character gives you a firm grounding and enables you to surmount the challenges life confronts you with. It is central to human-centered leadership.
Once a character is formed, it has to be oriented toward discovering beauty, goodness and truth – the transcendental, as they were known to the Greeks. They are the foundation of reality. This pursuit is fundamental to human-centered leaders and enables them to see farther and avoid distractions. When a leader pursues the transcendental, he is less likely to accept easy answers and will ask deeper questions that will align with his guiding principles. He is now an authentic human-centered leader, and he can build the best organization and, therefore, a better world.
Anthony Howard writes brilliantly and this book is likely to be his magnum opus. He has travelled far and wide and met with academics, politicians, corporate leaders, etc. to deliver a superior product. This book is recommended for aspiring leaders who truly wish to make a difference to their families and friends as well as the community at large and thereby leave behind a big footprint.