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What is Person Centered Leadership and Why is it a Good Approach?

What does Person Centred leadership look like? Why should leaders behave in a person centred way?

I have read lots of books, blogs and articles about leadership and there are many leadership theories, models, laws, opinions and examples. Each of these has something of value to add to the process of leadership development and most of them have the same thing in common. That is they identify great leadership as being not about what you know, but at its centre it is about who you are – it is character, beliefs, values and behaviour that underpins great leadership.

This was probably first said by Napoleon Hill in his Laws of Success written in 1928 and has been repeated many times since. In relation to who we are and how we behave he talks about (among many other things):

• The importance of building relationships
• Serving and being of value to others
• Engaging with others
• Seeking to understand people
• Working with people rather than ‘doing to’
• Modelling leadership qualities and guiding others
• Having Self-belief (in self as a leader)
• Initiative
• Self-management
• Self help
• Care and consideration
• Tolerance
• Persistence
• Courage / strength
• Fairness
• Dignity

Similarly Person Centredness is also about who we are and how we behave and it maps very well to the context of outstanding leadership.

The concept of Person Centredness began with Carl Rogers, a humanistic psychologist in the 1980’s and has in recent years been embraced by both health and social care. There are also many examples of it within Positive Psychology.

For me, looking at the work of Rogers, positive psychologists such as Martin Seligman and also from my own experience as a Person Centred health care worker and leader, Person Centredness means:

• Recognising that we each see the world as we are, not as it is and strive to understand the perspective of others and their beliefs and values for the purpose of fostering mutual understanding and respect
• Recognising that people are not their behaviour, bring no judgment in our interactions with them, rather, seek to understand
• Consistently demonstrating integrity and authenticity
• Having a purpose in life and work both broadly and within the activities that we do in our daily lives
• Being engaged in activities that are meaningful for us in the mind, body and spirit and assisting others to do the same
• Have choices and create opportunities to reach our full potential – we regularly accomplish things that have meaning for us
• Have meaningful relationships with others
• Contribute to our organization, our family, our community and to society
• Work with people rather than ‘do to’

Most people are not born leaders, so for most of us, becoming an outstanding leader requires learning and time. In addition to developing practical skills, leaders must have great character and must develop skills in Emotional Intelligence, human behaviour, visioning, positively influencing workplace culture, communication, networking, facilitation, modelling and mentoring to name a few.

I believe that developing leadership skills within the context of Person Centredness and a Person Centred Framework is an excellent way to become and continue to be an outstanding leader.

I would love to hear your views

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