Cosmopolitanism and Values for Humanistic Leaders

Humanism as a “learning lens” to enhance mutual growth


IESE Business School

Cosmopolitanism implies dialogue between cultures that questions economic and cultural assumptions / Photo: Archive

In Humanistic Perspectives on International Business and Management, IESE professors Carlos Rodríguez-Lluesma and Marta Elvira together with Anabella Dávila, look at how business leaders and stakeholders can flourish by learning about each other's values.

In their chapter on humanistic leadership, the co-authors define humanistic management as people-centered and working to protect human dignity. Amid increasing levels of globalization, they argue, today's humanistic leaders must be global citizens, engaged with local and international concerns.

Why Humanistic Leadership?

Humanistic leadership aims to reach a common good that benefits all.

If humanistic leaders see themselves as global citizens bound to their stakeholders by the more imperative of respecting one another as fellow human beings, say the co-authors, they treat people as an end rather than a means.

In other words, they negotiate with stakeholders, without commoditizing them, to reach a common good.

Connecting Global and Local

In today's context of transnationalization and globalization there is no simple relationship between the local and the global. Naturally, this has implications for management.

Cosmopolitanism implies dialogue between cultures that questions economic and cultural assumptions and requires openness to "the other." But what does this really entail? How are differences in cultures and norms managed?

This is where "value generalization" comes in.

Value generalization aims to understand shared characteristics without negating specific cultural experiences or traditions. The co-authors quote the words of Mexican film director, Guillermo del Toro: "we need roots, but not borders."

Global Citizens and Stakeholders

Humanistic leaders serve as a bridge across cultures, say the co-authors, by opening up a dialogue of mutual learning between themselves and their local stakeholders.

Both through rehearsing their responses to situations in which their values are challenged and through actual conversations, leaders can redefine what matters in business.

"We propose humanism in leadership as a learning lens that allows global leaders and local stakeholders to enhance mutual growth by understanding each other's values," the co-authors conclude.

More information in IESE Insight