Real leadership in service of people and society

The demographic trends paint a clear picture – talent is scarce and over the coming years it will become even more scarce than capital. This demands a different approach to leadership and leadership skills that transcend the way in which processes are managed. For example, the principle that “knowledge is my power” will no longer help you as a manager or leader. What attitudes and skills should you focus on developing to be a people-focused leader who is able to deal with these new challenges?

1.   Talent and potential make the difference in the ‘Human Age’
Our society is going through a period of transition; the social and economic laws and values that governed society in the 20th century are under pressure. On Youtube, Marc Luyckx, futurologist, speaks of a “Paradigm shift”. Mass production, capital and quantity are no longer the main drivers of the economy. Human potential has proven to be the real engine of economic development and holds the key to the future. Jeffrey A. Joerres, Executive Chairman and former CEO of Manpower Inc. says, “A new era is upon us. The Human Age – when optimizing human potential will be the single most important determinant of future business success and growth – will require business and government leaders to re-examine how to unleash and leverage human potential in an increasingly volatile and shifting world.”

We only need to look at the number of baby boomers that will retire over the coming years. This will lead to a shortage of talent in the labour market. As a result, older workers will have to work longer and organisations must find new ways to enable young workers to develop their talents at a faster rate. Individuals will be challenged to develop a learning attitude to ensure they keep growing and developing their potential throughout their career. 

Individuals in organisations think differently than 50 years ago: nowadays individuals want to determine where, when and how they wish to live and work.

What characterises the ‘Human Age’ in comparison to the situation in the past?

  • Industrial & technological revolution
  • The power lies with the employers
  • Working for the organisation
  • Command and control
  • Judging attitude
  • Capitalism
  • A job for life
  • Closed and shielded
  • Recruit power


  • People-focused society – ‘human age’
  • Talentism
  • 10 to 15 jobs by the age of 40
  • Transparent and open
  • Recruit passion
  • Learning attitude
  • The power lies with talented individuals
  • Working with an organisation
  • Coach and develop

Fundamental changes can be observed, both in the field of people management, and with regards to how we treat ourselves and others. Simply managing processes will no longer suffice. We need to create a connection with others, appeal to their potential, and listen and coach. Tomorrow’s manager must be able to answer the question: “Why are we doing this?”. 

2.   What does people-focused management mean?
To create a climate in which the human potential can thrive within the organisation, leaders and managers need to reflect on their own attitude and behaviour. 

Listed below are a number of elements that people-focused managers should focus on:

  • Developing self-awareness and self-appreciation
  • Authenticity
  • Confidence
  • Learning attitude
  • Communication based on intention
  • Connection
  • Transparency
  • Long-term relationships
  • …. 

A number of these elements will be explained in more detail below. You will be given tips and reflective questions to help you assess where you stand in your development as a people-focused leader.