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Whether you’re leading a business or a humanitarian organization with 20,000 members worldwide, there are certain principles that will make you a better leader, a more effective member of your team, and a more empathetic human being & member of the global community.
Humanitarian Leadership – The Win/Win (ft. Peter Maurer) Perspectives on leadership from a leader in the global humanitarian effort
You need to give space to your people on the ground, and you have to educate and strengthen their judgement. And that can only happen through finding the right way between compromise and rotten compromise at the front line.
Peter Maurer is President of the International Committee of the Red Cross and former head of the Swiss Diplomatic Service. He regularly addresses heads of governments and multilateral fora, such as the United Nations, on critical issues facing the world from conflict and violence to international humanitarian law. Through it all, Peter champions the core principles that underpin humanity and seeks to help and protect those who are victims of conflict and violence worldwide.
Learn more about Peter Maurer
CORE TOPICS + DETAILS:
[5:30] – Leading from the Middle
Example first, leader second
Peter advocates for a style of leadership that is more focused on setting examples with your own actions, or ‘leading from the middle.’ Co-creating with the people around you is far more powerful than being out in front and saying ‘follow me.’ It’s a matter of sending the message that we’re all in this together, and we all have something to contribute.
[9:57] – Creating Hope in Hopeless Situations
Facing an uphill battle? Change the battle
In Peter’s work, he often works with his teams on what seem to be hopeless causes. But by changing the conversation surrounding their goals— like emphasizing changing laws versus changing human nature— he’s able to help generate hope, inspiration, and the drive to push forward against the odds.
[25:11] – Focus on Methods, Not Intent
To change behavior, assume the best
Peter advocates for a style of leadership that, rather than assuming someone has bad intent, assumes that they simply aren’t equipped with the tools to make the right choice. As soon as you make an issue about principles and values, you close down communication. But if it’s about methods and modalities, it becomes less personal and more pliable.
[32:31] – Empower People to Make Decisions
Give context, then step back
To be able to be effective in a dynamic environment, the people in your teams must be empowered to respond effectively and make decisions at the front line with your support, but without your constant need to approve or deny those decisions. Give them the information they need to make informed decisions, then let them make them.
[49:51] – Lead with Empathy
Start there and success will follow
Empathy is a critical value and drive in both the humanitarian world and the business world. If you don’t really know and feel what your customer is about, you’ll have difficulty designing products or experiences that meet their needs. In a humanitarian context, if you fail to understand people’s basic needs, you’ll fail on your humanitarian mandate as an organization.