A Leadership Manifesto

A leadership manifesto is a “written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer.”

I’ve been helping deliver a leadership programme for the last 6 months, and one of the tasks we asked the participants to complete is to write their own Leadership Manifesto.  This is intended to help them consolidate their learning and make a clear statement of their future intent as leaders.  See this short youtube clip for more on the principle  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqus-QaKIIY

I’ve found it incredibly useful to take up the same invitation, so here’s mine:

Four core assumptions inform my manifesto:

  1. I’m fundamentally optimistic about human nature, while recognising that it contains both light and dark elements. The human mind is naturally predisposed to react to a perceived threat by creating a separation between ‘me’ and ‘them’ so that we quickly  blame or attack the ‘others’ who are are different. Equally, we are capable of emotional, psychological and spiritual growth that increases our choice, wisdom and compassion.
  2. Healthy and effective relationships need to be based on empathy, appreciation of differences and mutual trust. This requires self-awareness and the capacity to see people as people, not resources, objects or problems.
  3. Our socioeconomic system is broken. The tenets of ‘neoliberalism’ – cheap money, little financial regulation, low wages, off-shoring –  might have contributed to an overall increase in prosperity in recent decades, but they create huge social and environmental damage and won’t lead to shared future prosperity.  Our economic system now serves the needs only of a minority, and the rise of reactionary, populist leaders is just one response to this failure.*
  4. A new approach to business, society and the planet is emerging that needs to be based on progressive values of collaboration, tolerance, fairness, equality and a much bigger answer to the question “who is my neighbour?” This will lead to sustainable businesses that make smart use of resources. This systemic breakdown is a painful process and there are no guarantees of a fast or easy transition to something better.

My contribution in this context is to use my skills, experience and knowledge to work with people, especially those in influential leadership positions, to foster the natural process of human growth and heal limiting or destructive beliefs and behaviours.

I want to help leaders to be more whole in themselves, more effective in their roles, and more capable of establishing honest and productive relationships – at work and in their families. This will create positive ripples throughout their companies and beyond. I encourage leaders to broaden their perspective beyond achieving personal and corporate profit, to also include the needs of society and the long-term health of the planet. I trust this will in turn foster more healthy and sustainable ways of working and doing business.

The biggest challenge I face is that I am part of a failing system that brings me short-term benefits. Can I be true to this manifesto in the face of my own fears about financial security and need for acceptance? Am I willing to engage in dialogue with clients whose values are not in alignment with mine – or will I remain silent? How will this manifesto inform my daily choices and actions? Can I retain sufficient self-awareness to stay true to these principles, and to speak out when I see my core values being compromised?

I commit to honestly engaging with these challenges, and to play my part in this critical stage of human history.

Join me, if you can commit to taking whatever small action feels possible and purposeful in the midst of uncertainty.  I have faith that the best of the human spirit can prevail, if we each take responsibility for how we touch the lives of the people we encounter.

Jonathan Males

December 2016


* If you feel this statement is an exaggeration, read what the Governor of the Bank of England has to say here .  For a further commentary from a respected writer on economics read this.