Manifesto for Human Leadership

At a time when it is “normal that many things are changing and are changing more quickly than ever” (Karl-Heinz Geißler), the role of leadership must at least be discussed and in parts even questioned. Today Leadership is only legitimate if it has the self-leadership of the employees entrusted to it as its goal. Leadership is about making others successful. This human leadership is not a question of position, but of attitude. In this manifesto we describe this attitude and the values of a new, agile, digital, and above all human leadership.

Of course, I cannot say whether it will be better if it will be different; but I can say that, it must be different if it is to be good.
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

This manifesto was the first attempt to answer the question of leadership in the context of the agile transformation. However, this journey towards more agility and self-organization in the face of VUCA, digitization and disruption is only the welcome opportunity to revive long-standing concepts such as servant leadership. The manifesto is based on the Peter F. Drucker’s research on knowledge work and the leadership of knowledge workers, as well as on the positive conception of mankind of the theory Y from Douglas McGregor’s pioneering book “The Human Side of Enterprise”. In this sense, the title of the manifesto may be understood as an allusion to this book.

Manifesto for Human Leadership

We believe in the creativity and motivation of human beings. We consider human leadership as pivotal in a highly networked and highly complex world. We understand the task of leadership as serving life and striving for conditions in which people, in their diversity, can contribute in the best possible way and in which they can develop themselves and work effectively together. These values are important to us:

Unleashing human potential
over employing human resources.

Diversity and dissent
over conformity and consensus.

Purpose and trust
over command and control.

Contributions to networks
over position in hierarchies.

Growing leaders
over leading followers.

Courageously exploring the new
over efficiently exploiting the old.

That is, while there is value in the items on the bottom, we value the highlighted items on the top more.

There is also a printable version of this Manifesto for Human Leadership.

Sign the Manifesto for Human Leadership

  1. Unleashing human potential over employing human ressources.
  2. Embracing diversity and dissent over seeking conformity and consensus.
  3. Purpose and trust over command and control.
  4. Contributions to networks over position in hierarchies.
  5. Creating leaders over leading followers.
  6. Courageously exploring the new over efficiently exploiting the old.

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9 Comments Add New Comment

  1. Randal Ackley says:

    Great point and well said Marcus,
    But can you change people or when you talk about changing the culture of a corporation or organization do you need to change the leaders of the hierarchy to change the whole thing?

    1. Thanks Randal! Change is hard and changing others in my opinion impossible. What I can do and try to do is to inspire people to think about their behavior and the culture they create with it. To this end, it certainly helps to start with leadership as people in most organizations are focused on the behavior their leaders show.

  2. Andreas Graessl says:

    Thank you Marcus for this pointed and thought-provoking statements! It reminds me of the Agile Manifesto with its purely positive statements. For my taste “Command and control” sounds a bit to negative to sincerely value it ;-)

    1. Thank you so much for your appreciation! Indeed, it was meant to resemble the Agile Manifesto. And it is not so easy to come up with purely positive statements. And “command & control” indeed is the one where we have the most discussion. I agree, that we should try to find a better and more positive terms, e.g. “direction and feedback”.

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