What makes a good leader? Humanity.

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Speaking at HR Tech World last week, Arianna Huffington suggested that augmented humanity is the next big thing. We’re living in a transformational time - the 4th industrial revolution - with machine learning, AI and automation impacting everything we do. So it’s only right that we’re questioning what this means for our jobs, our leadership abilities and our interactions.

I had the luxury of contemplation whilst climbing the Gran Paradiso for charity recently. Nothing makes you think more than when you’re pushing yourself to the edge of exhaustion! During the journey I examined my leadership, creativity and above all, time spent with my family. My conclusion? Whatever I do in life, I need to approach it with humanity. This includes my management of ARM:

Avoid leadership in the cloud

It’s easy to take advantage of tools like Slack and Skype to manage employees, without physically spending time with them. I started at ARM as a consultant and I’ve never left the floor. I’d be really upset if someone had to knock on a door to reach me. It’s important to be physically present and accessible; you can’t do that locked away in an office.

“I’d be really upset if someone had to knock on a door or speak to a chatbot MD.”

Hot-desking with different teams paints a realistic picture of what it’s like to work at ARM - as well as keeping me in the loop on day-to-day challenges. It’s as much for me as it is for the teams, giving me insights that might be missed in manager briefings.

View from the top

I understand our company mission, but does that mean everyone else does? I’ve learned that everything should stem from our vision - talent attraction, EVP, internal comms, product innovation, progression… the list goes on.

This isn’t authoritarian rule, though. We came up with our company vision and culture by consulting our staff - and data. We worked closely with employer branding and talent marketing agency, zyx associates, to map out the characteristics of our top performers, aligning our company culture to these individuals.

As a result, we get people to come on a journey with us - right from when they apply for a job, through to their career developments and promotions. This shared sense of belonging means we retain staff and they do their best work with us.

You don’t have to be a tyrant to earn respect

In my experience bullish bosses have a hidden agenda - they might have pressure from above or they aren’t confident in their roles. Rising through the ranks has earned me respect and I’ve never been the boss that has to shout about my role or achievements.  

“You don’t have to tell everyone you’re the boss.”

Instead of throwing my weight around, I prefer to empower my teams. We identified in the mapping exercise that one manager was losing motivation and needed to be challenged. Rather than pulling this individual out, I gave him a seat at the table of our biggest tech innovation yet - the testing and integration of a machine learning sourcing platform. It was a gamble, but you don’t get anywhere without experimenting.

As a result, the manager shone, his team were at the forefront of our tech advancement and outperformed the other departments three quarters in a row.

Respect is gained through sharing power with everyone in the organisation. This responsibility means that people don’t want to let me or their peers down. We’re one ARM.

In the end

It’s rare that someone is eulogised solely on their work. So why do we expect employees to concentrate their lives around their jobs?

I don’t want my people to suffer burnout. I want them to lead healthy, happy lives with people they love. As much as I consider ARM to be a family, I encourage employees to seek meaning outside the office.

We promote flexible working and work/life integration among all staff, at every level. I lead from example with this, rarely answering emails in the evening/at weekends and letting my teams know that it’s okay to have downtime.

Humanity is using technology for the greater good, and leading your people in a creative, empathetic manner. We can’t forget that - no matter where the revolution leads us.