Leadership in the XXI century: re-learning to being human

Leadership in the XXI century: re-learning to being human

Attending a few days ago the conference by Rasmus Hougaard, director and founder of Potential Project and organized by Professor Albert Ribera of IESE Business School, a topic of great interest and relevance in the business world raised: “Leadership in the XXI century, relearning to be human”.


Leaders have incredible power over the people they have to motivate. Moreover, today the work of leaders and organizations is to create the ideal conditions for their people to be happy, feel connected, contribute positively and make their work have a meaning, a purpose.


If we look at the 2017 Gallup Employee Engagement report on the state of work in the US, we see some surprising results because it shows that there has not been a substantial change in behavior on the part of leaders in recent years. This involves observing a sad reality because most employees are not committed to their work or the company and have not been for a long time.

The data extracted from this report shows:

  • Only 33% of employees are engaged, which means a lack of commitment.
  • 65% of employees would reject an improvement in salary in exchange for seeing their bosses expelled from the company, which translates into a severe lack of happiness and satisfaction.
  • 77% of leaders believe that with their behavior they motivate well and commit their people, while 82% of employees think otherwise.

These shortcomings involve an expenditure of $46 billion in leadership training annually in the US.

Similar situation can be extrapolated to other countries so we are witnessing a leadership crisis.


Here we propose three essential points to put into practice in order to achieve good leadership in the 21st century: mindfulness, selflessness and compassion.



Mindfulness is the ability of managing our mind. We know that we have around 80.000 thoughts every day and our mind is changing every second. However, our mind can be trained and, by practising mindfulness, we are strengthening our presence, our focus and our self-awareness.

According to a research done by Potential Project and published by HBR, data shows that:

  • 73% of leaders feel unmindful most of the time,
  • 65% often fail to complete tasks, as a result
  • 67% describe their minds as cluttered
  • 96% would like to be more mindful

This data shows that there is a need of improving mindfulness. The science of mindfulness and its practice (just starting by 10 minutes every morning, during two weeks from Monday to Friday) gives us huge benefits in:

  • Our body: stronger immune system, lower blood pressure, lower heart rate, better sleep.
  • Our mind: increased cognitive function, memory, life quality and reduced stress and cognitive rigidity.
  • At work, enhances:
    • Work Life balance
    • Job performance
    • Problem solving
    • Job satisfaction
    • Collaboration
    • Creativity
    • Focus
When leading, practising mindfulness regularly allows you to be focused, be present, be here now and stop multi-tasking.




Our brain has a self-referential network and we are egocentric by nature. However, we can practise humility to become as much as possible ego-free.

Good leadership starts with humility and being completely at others’ service.

Some quick selflessness tips are:

  • Use less “I”, “me”, “my” and “mine”.
  • Think of who contributed to your success: humility.
  • Expressing gratitude.

Therefore, by practising selflessness we get a very positive impact on:

  • Happiness: active use of “we”, “she” and “you” improves our happiness.
  • Health: decrease blood pressure, heart disease and mortality.
  • Credibility: by being perceived as better leaders.
  • Success: by being others oriented and be at service to others.

Selfless leadership behaviour strongly enhances:

  • Engagement.
  • Sense of belongingness.
  • Team citizenship behaviours.
  • Sense of recognition.
  • Innovation.
The question is to try to reduce EGO since it brings associated many problems such as makes you vulnerable for criticism and manipulation, corrupts your behaviour, narrows your vision and put you in a bubble.




Compassion is about doing the right things for people, for helping and supporting them.

It is the intention to be of benefit to others.

Three quick compassion tips are:

  • Always check your intention
  • Ask yourself: how can I be of benefit?
  • Random acts of kindness

With these three ingredients, mindfulness, selflessness and compassion, leadership can improve today.

The Mind of the Leader book has captured the essentials of leadership in the 21st century:

"Being mindful, selfless and compassionate. With these, we are better able to engage our people and bring more value to our clients." - says Dominic Barton, Global Managing Director, McKinsey and Company.


I leave you the link to the app of The Mind Of The Leader