Human Centred Leadership for Transformation

Decorative image representing transformation

We live in an age where disruption is no longer the exception, but the norm. However, many organisations are still struggling to realise the benefits of their transformation efforts. In QUTeX’s masterclass in Human-Centered Leadership for Transformation, we will look at the evidence for taking a human-centered approach to leadership and transformation, what this looks and feels like in practice, steps to take in helping increase the likelihood of a successful transformation, and contextualising what that means for your organisation.

What Is Human-Centred Leadership?

Take care of your employees and they will take care of your business, it’s a simple as that” Sir Richard Branson

Putting people first is at the heart of taking a human-centered approach to leadership.

These leaders put people before profit, compassion before outcomes and focus on creating a work environment which enables growth and development and encourages every employee to be at their best.

The notion of human-centered leadership is derived from the principles of human-centered design. Human-centered is an approach to problem solving that develops solutions to problems by involving the human perspective in all steps of the problem-solving process. Therefore, human-centered leadership is an approach to leadership that strives to include and integrate different human perspectives in helping people and organisations achieve their goals.

Human-centred leaders prioritise their people and culture.

However, they are not people-pleasers, overly emotional or caught up in feelings. Taking a human-centred approach to leadership does require an ability to be sensitive to the challenges that people are facing, to respond with empathy and then take action to support and develop them. These leaders have a genuine intention to contribute to the well-being of others and to see them thrive. This can sometimes require giving honest feedback, but most of the time, it is about seeing how we can each help add to the health and happiness of others.

Research shows, when you care for your people they will care for your business, as highlighted by the quote from Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin group of companies. Meeting the work-based needs of your employees will also result in them going over and above what is expected and will lead to enhanced performance and productivity (e.g. Hesketh, Cooper & Ivy, 2017; Palmer & Gignac, 2012).

With a focus on building a solid foundation, a strong moral compass, and deep empathy for others, human-centered leaders lead with the intention to have a positive impact on the world around them.

Why do we need human-centered leadership for transformation?

Reorienting people’s mindset from profit and competition toward value and cooperation is essential for system-wide transformation and rebuilding social trust.

Observations of those leading true transformation reveals they:

  • Are facilitative (they enable others)
  • Have a service orientation (employee and customer-centric)
  • Have a strong sense of purpose (strategic and visionary)

Leaders of successful transformations are oriented towards ‘being of service’ to their employees, their organisation, their customers and society.

Integrating human perspective and valuing different perspectives ensures everyone has a voice and feels they are able to co-create the change, making change work for them rather than change being ‘done to them’, thus minimising both resistance to change and change fatigue.

Taking a human-centered approach to transformation also addresses the obvious short-comings of previous approaches to business and helps to preserve human dignity and enhance human wellbeing in a time of enormous global upheaval and change.

Are you interested in learning about personal and organisational transformation? Click here to  see current course offerings.

Upcoming QUTeX courses


Hesketh, I., Cooper, C. L., & Ivy, J. (2017). Wellbeing and engagement in policing: the key to unlocking discretionary effort?. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 11(1), 62-73.

Palmer, B. R., & Gignac, G. (2012). The impact of emotionally intelligent leadership on talent retention, discretionary effort and employment brand. Industrial and commercial training.


Dr Shari Read is an award-winning educator with a focus on teaching skills for our digital future. As a clinically trained social psychologist and design enthusiast, Shari emphasises human-centred approaches to leadership, management and new ways of working. Her research and teaching in the area of transformation and change management emphasise the capabilities required to lead effectively through uncertainty and complexity.

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