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Source: State University Higher School of Economics – State University “Higher School of Economics” – Source: State University “Higher School of Economics” – Source: State University “Higher School of Economics” – State University “Higher School of Economics

The principle of client-centeredness in business is gradually giving way to a more global approach – human-centeredness, in which empathy and the ability to see a situation through the eyes of another person come first. A modern leader has a well-developed emotional intelligence and strong social skills, which he or she successfully applies in working with clients, partners and employees. What the new concept includes and how to implement it, said in an interview with “Vyshka.Glavnoe” the head of the department. Human-centeredness and Leadership Practices Laboratory Vladimir Soloviev, National Research University Higher School of Economics.

– Vladimir Alexandrovich, you are a well-known moderator and business coach with vast practical experience. A year ago you came to the Higher School of Economics and created your own laboratory. What are the objectives of this collaboration?

– For more than 30 years of work in the field of team and organization development, I have accumulated an impressive number of management cases, but this experience was not supported by science. I decided to open a laboratory at the Higher School of Economics, as Vyshka is one of the key players in scientific research in the country. I think our collaboration will bring a synergistic effect and allow us to develop practical tools with proven effectiveness to create a Russian model of a modern manager.

I am a practitioner, so I like the fact that HSE is focused not only on science, but also on applied projects with leading employers. Scientific research should serve people, business and the state, then the real sector will become stronger by learning to apply scientific developments in its activities. Our laboratory can become such a bridge between science, the public sphere and the state, and we have everything necessary to realize this.

One of our most important directions is the development of human-centeredness in the country, and this is where I see my main task. My mission, which I have been following for decades, is to help organizations, teams and people to unlock their potential and achieve outstanding results. And now this is only possible through a human-centered approach.

– What does the term “leadership” mean today? Why has it become so important and even fashionable?

– A leader is not always a manager: speaking about leaders, we mean that every person in his or her position can show leadership, be proactive, interact with his or her team and colleagues. Even when working with your manager, you can and should show leadership. You can be a leader in any place, in any social role.

For example, Ken Blanchard, a well-known leadership expert, divided leaders and managers in this way: a leader is someone who knows how to put the ladder in the right place, and a manager is someone who knows how to climb it. In today’s world, it is obvious that any manager must have managerial competencies and be able to demonstrate leadership, which means knowing where to put the ladder and how to climb it. Ideally, a manager in any position and at any level should be a leader, but a leader does not necessarily have to be a manager.

Leadership issues have always been important, and now there is high competition both within the country and on the world stage and a tough, I would say, very difficult situation in the world. In these conditions, leaders need even more responsibility for themselves, their team, organization and country. This means that it is necessary to look for solutions even in the most difficult situations, constantly asking yourself the question: “What else can I do?” And if things don’t work out, then instead of looking for someone to blame and asking, “How did this happen?” take responsibility and ask yourself, “How did I let this happen?” Then the leader begins to manage the situation rather than being a victim of circumstance. Our research shows that this is not an innate competence, but an absolutely developable one.

– What other qualities are important for a leader in this sense of the word?

– The ability to listen and hear is very important. Not to be afraid to admit your mistakes, to develop on a daily basis, including regularly asking for feedback from your team, clients and partners. And most importantly, to accept it fully, without trying to justify yourself and explain that everything is really wrong and “you are the fool”. Of course, it is very important to set clear goals and ensure the involvement of every member of the team. Be able to supervise, checking in regularly rather than ditching or over-interfering. And my experience shows that an expert position and a deep understanding of the essence of the most important issues of the organization’s activities are key success factors even at the highest level.

The ability to build a team around you is one of the most important qualities of a leader. The winner is the one who is able to form teams of very different people, understanding and utilizing their strengths and tolerating their weaknesses. It is important to be able to inspire, to help people overcome difficulties, to support their initiatives and ideas and, most importantly, to be able to discover and develop talents in the team.

Another extremely useful quality is the ability to obey. For many leaders, this is an extremely difficult task!

And of course, if we are talking about human-centeredness, we are talking about empathy. It has always been obvious that a manager who thinks about people, feels and empathizes, knows how to engage and motivate, will get better results, although some experts believe that a directive style and a strong hand works better in Russia. I generally agree with that, but who says you can’t be empathic with that style? You don’t have to be a directive meanie, you can be firm and clear and still build trusting respectful relationships with people. Are demanding and positivity antonyms?

The ability and willingness to be a lifelong learner is also very important. If a leader decides that he or she already knows everything, the end is near.

– What do you mean by human-centeredness within the work of the lab?

– We used to talk more about client-centeredness. Business becomes client-centered when a businessman is in a dialog with his client and creates an ideal solution together with him, sometimes thinking beyond his client – about his clients. The entire management system will most likely have to be restructured for this, as well as serious work with the internal culture of the organization. Now, with the rise of digital technology, there is a concept of the customer journey, which should be seamless from the moment of intent to the moment of savoring the aftertaste. To ensure this, a company must employ people who care and love their organization and its customers.

But human-centeredness is also about everyone in the organization. A leader must be able to structure the work so that it maximizes the expectations and needs of the internal customer. An unhappy employee who is afraid of his boss and worries about whether his paycheck will be enough to feed his family will not make the customer happy. And if we look at things more broadly, we move to the holistic concept of human-centeredness. For example, the philosophy of human-centeredness is summarized in the mission of the government of the Russian Federation, which I helped to develop in 2020, is to improve the quality of life of everyone in our country. In the same way, socially responsible business today thinks not just about selling its products, but in general about the customer as a human being, trying to help him or her live a happier life.

Returning to the goals of our lab, I would say that we study real practices of successful leaders and look for tools that allow leaders in today’s situation to be effective, successful and, of course, human-centered.

– A year has passed since the creation of the laboratory. What has your team been doing, what have you achieved?

– The goal of our work in 2023 was to prepare and test the toolkit and launch a pilot wave of research on leadership practices and customer centricity in state and non-state organizations. We collected a lot of research material, conducted a review of leadership models and practices among executives of Russian companies and government bodies, and conducted more than a hundred in-depth interviews with the heads of regions, large cities, public and private companies. What is impressive is that the prototype model of a modern Russian leader we ended up with largely coincides with our ideas: the majority of respondents spoke about the importance of human-centeredness for the development of the organization, business, country and society as a whole.

Based on the results of the first stage of the research, we were able to confirm that nowadays the sphere of values and meanings is coming to the forefront, and the main value that determines the effectiveness of leadership practices is a person, a team. At the same time, Russia needs its own unique model of a modern leader, which incorporates the best international experience and is based on the values, traditions and cultural peculiarities of our country. We have seen that many practices of Western, more individualistic management are inferior to our domestic, more collectivistic and team-oriented ones. We also identified the need to move from the concept of client-centeredness to a more global approach – man-centeredness – at the national level, in the sphere of social policy.

– Tell us about your team’s future plans.

– This year we plan to continue our work with executives, and we also want to investigate the practices of their employees. We are already negotiating with major Russian corporations to conduct a global joint study on the impact of the human-centered approach on the economy of organizations and the country as a whole.

I intend to organize a big ongoing discussion around the culture of human-centeredness, to engage and interest people in this topic, to develop it, to help leaders and organizations change. One of the biggest discussions will take place on October 3-4 at the HR EXPO 2024 exhibition and conference. It will be a discussion on the human-centered approach with the participation of the largest Russian companies, representatives of the education industry and with the support of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection. Experts from our laboratory will moderate this discussion.

Also, we are already preparing a number of interesting projects, including research into the relationship between state power and society, and the establishment of a dialog between them. In this sense, 2024 – the Year of the Family – will be the most relevant period for such research in the social policy of the state.

We also plan to explore the potential of digital footprints as a technological basis for the development of human-centeredness approaches.

In addition to conducting and participating in fundamental research, we are engaged in applied tasks – we are developing programs for continuing education. This year we are launching a large program on the basics of human-centered leadership. And, of course, we want to help our native Vyshcha become a more comfortable place to work, study, and communicate, and for this purpose we are creating a Center for Process Reengineering Competencies, which together with other departments will improve services for both internal and external customers.

Please note; This information is raw content directly from the source of the information. It is accurate to what the source states and does not reflect the position of MIL-OSI or its customers.

Please note; This information is raw content directly from the information source. It is accurate to what the source is stating and does not reflect the position of MIL-OSI or its clients.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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