“When robots are driving our cars, doing our shopping, writing our blogs and articles, cleaning our homes and providing medical care… what will be left for us to do?” asks Anthony Howard.
In the book Humanise: Why Human-Centred Leadership is the Key to the 21st Century, he argues “it won’t be a question of what we do, though, but of who we are, of what kind of people we are, of how we relate to one another, how we care for one another.”
This reminded me of Father Sirico’s closing address at Acton University in 2015 during which he said, “We know better how to form children, we know better how to care for the dying and sick and to tend to the lonely and the troubled […] precisely because we believe in the dignity of all human life.”
Sometimes the threats to humanising the culture come from attacks on the religious freedom of institutions. Other times, a properly human culture is threatened by a lack of reflection on leadership and ethics, particularly as these involve technology.
Howard says, “When people ask, ‘Where is the new Mandela?’ or the next Ghandi, Mother Teresa, or Martin Luther King Jr., I suspect they are looking for people who are committed to Beauty, Goodness, and Truth, who are guided by a sense of purpose and a life of virtue, who think clearly and make wise choices that align with timeless human principles.”
Do we have human-centred leaders motivated by a belief in the dignity of all human life, alert to their own consciences, and driven by a vision of true human flourishing?
Humanise is filled with memorable and relatable anecdotes. Howard recounts hosting a group of professionals in conversation with the chairman of one of Australia’s Top 100 listed companies. In describing his expectations for his executive team, the Chairman discussed deliverables, numbers, and outcomes. He then told them, “But at the same time, what really matters is that if you are married now, then you are still married in 12 months’ time.”
“We have to secure the foundations of a human-centred world before we find ourselves on the periphery,” says Howard. “Human-centered leaders are the key. They are the moral force that will defend humanity.”
In a time where “business ethics” is often taught in a superficial way, Anthony Howard presents a compelling case for “humanising enterprise”, calling our attention to a nobler standard of leadership to which we can all aspire.