Humanitarian Leadership – The Win/Win



Discover the secrets of success for you and your organization shared by the world’s leading thinkers, doers, and trailblazers. Join Chris Roebuck, Honorary Visiting Professor of transformational leadership, leader in military, business, and government, inspiring global keynote speaker, one of HR’s Most Influential Thinkers, bestselling author, and your host of Perspectives from the Top. The show reveals a treasure trove of insights from megatrends to practical strategies and actions to take your career up a gear. From government world shapers and business mold breakers to evidence-driven academics and enthusiastic entrepreneurs, each episode shows you how you can immediately use these new ideas and actions to drive your success. Learn more at:

Episode Summary

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.

Episode Notes

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


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


[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.



Chris Roebuck
Chris Roebuck
Chris Roebuck is a speaker, advisor and executive coach who has a unique approach that helps leaders, teams, and organisations reach their full potential and be successful in just three steps. This is proven to add investor value, deliver better customer service, build the brand externally, develop innovation and entrepreneurial thinking, optimise risk and boost the bottom line by 10% + at no cost. Chris unique experience as a leader in the military, business, government and as a Hon Visiting Professor of Transformational Leadership has enabled him to develop this innovative, entrepreneurial and highly effective new approach for leaders and organisations to achieve success: I CARE Leadership. It’s simply about you being the leader people always give their best for empowered by authentic and inspirational servant leadership. Chris shows how building on leaders current knowledge via simple, practical day to day actions can immediately deliver real improvements at all levels; individual, team, and organisation. One organisation who implemented it increased the number of staff happy to recommend it as “a great place to work” to friends or family in 2 years from 40% to 82%, an exceptional change, and increased revenue by 40%. When Global Head of Leadership at UBS, 70,000 staff & 100 countries, his team helped the bank transform organisational performance to increase profitability by 235%, market capitalisation by 50% and win awards. This is now a Harvard Case Study. Chris experience spans many sectors and geographies; from having held senior roles in UBS, HSBC, KPMG & London Underground to advising legal firms and construction, from the UK National Health Service of 1.4m staff and UK Government to the Red Cross in Myanmar, from Investment banks in London to Middle East Telecoms, from the Chinese Space Programme to retail in USA and many more. Chris has been quoted as a business leadership expert globally in the Harvard Business Review China, FT, Wall Street Journal, Le Monde, New York Times, Business Week, Time Magazine, Washington Post, Times of India, Straits & Gulf Times and many other titles. He has been interviewed on TV over 350 on leadership and business issues on BBC, CNN, Bloomberg, and other channels and his books have been translated into 11 languages. Chris has been recognised as one of the Most Influential HR Thinkers regularly since 2011 by the HR profession.

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