Human Experience by Design: Exploring the Realm of Mindful Leadership

Today’s approaches to organisational performance see the “human experience” as the driving force behind engagement, ultimately guiding the enterprise to growth and long-term sustainability.

The trend towards human-centric practices has been accelerated by the advent of the pandemic, with social restrictions forcing organisations of all sizes and sectors, to re-think their people management and development practices.

A vast array of evidence shows how cultures of trust and collaboration that focus on continuous improvement, are the ones where the “human experience” sits at the very core of the company’s operating model.

The question that follows is: How to develop those key dimensions in cultures where they are not palpable, to then enable a human experience by design?

Human experience by design, which is often an integral part of Agile© methodologies, presents a level of complexity still undervalued in impact and potential added value: The level of “self-awareness” of the leader as a beacon of hope, whose actions speak purpose, meaning, and vision to the collective or the people, within and outside the organisation.

Whilst it is unarguable that companies have before them sufficient data to re-evaluate existent people methods and to create human-centric working environments, conversely re-imagining the employee experience from a “human” perspective necessitates in fact a leap of consciousness.

When change occurs, methods to people development are often reactive, being consequential to underlying existent pain points in the people experience, such as lack of readiness to change and ineffectiveness of internal systems and practices that do not respond adequately to new demands and to external forces that impact on the business.

Reactive models are heavily driven by processes, policies, and systems being implemented ex-novo, with little or no insight into what may be causing roadblocks at the root level.

Taking the “human factor” out of the change experience would be to say that change happens by default, without human input or intervention, offering a rather simplistic view of a more complex dimension hence proposing temporary solutions that are unlikely to generate the level of sustainable change sought-after.

Research findings in applied neuroscience to change, have evidenced that as humans, we are wired (from a biological make-up) to resist change. Change, or even the prospect of it, triggers an automatic fear-response to what the mind perceived as the unknown or threat unless change is tied to purpose, clear direction, psychological safety, and the potential benefit arising out of it.

Crafting a human experience by design, that will have a ripple effect externally to the organisation, on the end client, and in the community, is not separated from rather intertwined with internal processes and procedural execution. It starts with a shared vision and a clear direction, embodied by desirable displayed behaviours that elicit trust, inspire others towards betterment and higher performance.

Conscious Leadership pertains to the realm of the “self”, which adds an extra layer of complexity to what leading self, and others means: The dimension of self-awareness or conscious thinking.

Conscious thinking identifies autopilot or survival modalities as hinders to progress, overrides them, and replaces them with empowering habits that ensue from empathy, compassion, authenticity, and care.

Conscious Leadership can be seen as a journey of self-discovery with far-reaching consequences that transcend the four walls of an office or a home. It goes beyond the toolkit and roadmap. In fact, it is growth.

Underpinned by fundamental human values that sustain positive emotional responses within oneself first, it generates connectedness with others hence lasting change.

Humans are wired to connect as much as to resist change, including social change.

Therefore, how to move from resistance towards acceptance through a path of curiosity, openness, authenticity eventually to connection and collaboration?

How to lead on principles of humanity in the very essence of the term, to foster environments in which people feel to belong and contribute to?

People in today’s world of work call just for that. No matter the financial reward, what people need to outperform their previous best is purpose, meaning, and, above all, leaders who are visible, accountable, and supportive of the collective efforts towards growth, who take the pulse of the organisation and re-adjust the course if needed.

Leaders that show up authentically, who are eager to make the desired impact and, in so doing, establishing enthusiastic followers towards a goal bigger than themselves: The good of the company, their clients, and the community they serve.

In the pandemic’s aftermath, and the consequent seismic shift the World we all live in is experiencing, I offer a lens through which to see change as an achievable effort.

Positive change that ignites action for good.

How we act today not only will it shape our tomorrow but that of others after us, touching and influencing people’s lives, whether directly or not. Studies in social psychology have shown the interplay of human emotions through behavioural imitation with business outputs, and their direct impact on the overall people experience within the organisation, and beyond.

Research has highlighted the role of mirror neurons on behaviour, revealing the true social and emotional nature of the brain. Mirror neurons are neurons which fire not only when an individual exhibits a behaviour but also when observing a behaviour. They have a functional role, among various social contexts, in Imitation. In simple words, humans tend to mirror others’ behaviour as if it were their own albeit this mechanism occurs at the subconscious level.

Which brings the question: Can we reach a level of consciousness to actually choose to act so that our actions will positively impact those around us?

Choice arises from self-awareness. It requires the element of effort and intention. By making conscious choices, can we all shape our internal reality to shift and transform to better our inner world and that of others around us as well?

What food or thoughts we feed our mind with, in conjunction with the values and beliefs built during life creates our internal map or compass. The map in turn shapes our reality or, better said, the experience of the world around us, manifesting in actions that exert influence on us through thoughts, behaviours, and emotions and on others consequently.

Just like a healthy body requires the right choice and amount of nutrients for optimal functioning day by day, the same applies to the mind for positive action to occur in response to empowering thinking habits: This is the place of higher self-awareness that is conscious inner leadership.

By changing oneself inner perception, the resultant collective experience will change.

Having a human experience by design means making a conscious choice over which actions to take, knowing that those actions will have a bearing on others.

The greatest discovery of our generation is that human beings can alter their life by altering the attitudes of their mind.

~William James


Monica Dettori
Monica Dettori
I direct purpose, transparency, collaboration, innovation, and conscious leadership to foster a thriving ecosystem in which individuals, teams, and leaders nurture the human dimension that shapes the direction of the business. I have built a comprehensive OD and HR capability that leverages tested methodologies, behavioural science, and best-practice, making a measurable contribution to the development, transformation, and scale-up of enterprises experiencing hypergrowth and disruptive change. Encompassing a local reach with a global footprint,  I design, harmonise and execute people plans in synergy with strategic goals, translating business needs into viable people solutions that bolster the Employee Value Proposition (EVP) in an enablement-led work environment. Closely partnering with leadership to unlock potential across the organisation, I measure the value of initiatives to inform strategic decision-making whilst promoting a culture of empowerment, leading on complex change interventions in the UK Market and across borders. As Human Potential and Wellbeing Coach, I am a catalyst for positive and sustainable change,  transforming the inner dynamics with existing challenges to build Company's resilience and readiness to change, improving communication, elevating leadership impact, and placing the employee's experience at the heart of organisation's growth & long-term sustainability. Focusing on solutions that add value, I make a measurable impact on the company and its people, leveraging agile and design thinking approaches whilst maintaining a sense of curiosity, creativity, and openness to growth, building trust-based relationships, and engaging across all levels of the organisation.

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