In the early years of the decade, from 2010, it was David Cameron along with his advisor, Steve Hilton, who created the concept of “The Big Society” which aimed to empower people to do good work within communities and neighbourhoods. Today we are seeing this trend but on a larger stage with leading emerging professional talent give/volunteer their time to social initiatives and looking to their companies – often leading players in their own right – to both support their desire to do this and to show leadership themselves in how they do work with society.
This is not about neighbourhood initiatives but major social initiatives that can create change. It is no coincidence that many of today’s real emerging leaders are not from business but those from key social initiatives – people such as Cemal Ezal, the founder of Change Please.
There is little choice for many companies but the change the way that they do think about things and how they act – if they do want to attract the best talent, they also need to think on a larger and wider scale that views the role on business within a social context.
This genuinely could be an exciting period of time. Many are fed up with the lack of trust that exists within business. Many are bored of some of the aggression that is seen – some of the selfish practices that are so often seen. There is even reactions against transactional behaviours driven by processes that have such little empathy for people. How many times does one hear comments about the lack of customer care and service?
It is not just that companies will need to act with a greater social view but also for the customer. It is no longer acceptable to hide behind process but important to show genuine empathy and care for the customer. It is all part of the move back towards a kinder approach within society.
Lack of trust in leaders and business did not just happen. Trust was eroded by a whole range of factors including the way that leaders became ever less accessible or open, where people became less of a focus, where process would dictate behaviours towards customers, how business became less transparent in an age that became ever more open and of course the fact that so many are struggling financially when so many Directors have been seen to claim large salaries. We cannot forget how when University fees went up, some Vice Chancellors were seen to be rewarded with £400k salaries or those CEOs of companies that have gone down that have still be rewarded by high salaries of over £1m. It may have been a period of austerity but it needed real values and care to be seen – yet the opposite happened.
People follow those that do possess a belief in something bigger and more than profit. The human spirit also aspires to see work for the greater good – for communities, for those that are lost, for a strong society that is value led, kind and generous.
Now the demand is for a change in approach and it is seeing real change take place. Leaders are suddenly asking more of themselves and for their companies. Leaders are again emerging into the open and as they do, then the momentum of change will grow.
It have been a very challenging time but the light is on the horizon and good days may well lie ahead.