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Whirling Chief

HR by Love: An Invitation to a Collaborative Future

I have been on the road the past four weeks.

My journey started in California with initiating a US pilot of a collaboration with Stanford University’s CCARE on a program called ‘Awakening Humanity at Work‘. This is a program designed to help awaken core human capabilities available to any one of us supporting our leadership operate from a higher self, rooted in abundance and compassionate love. I was honored then to present a keynote at the first time ‘Compassion & Mindfulness at Work’ conference in the greater Seattle area. Then, I traveled to Lisbon to attend the House of Beautiful Business gathering with futurists, technologists, designers, and psychologists passionate to create a positive vision of technology and humanity together. Finally, together with my dear colleagues Lena Schwerzmann and Timo Plattner, I had the pleasure of hosting the third annual DisruptHR event in Zurich and what a joy it was!

When I am on the road, I have the luxury of open space in time… I seek these spaces out as reflective times and try to cherish it as much as I can by allowing myself to daydream. I have been wondering about the state of HR as a profession and how little I get to observe the effort to collaborate in reach of a vision.

Over the course of this year, several colleagues have asked me whether I feel threatened by the competition and by sharing information openly; whether I worry that others with more commission or visibility would “steal” a concept to make it sell sooner; whether I fear that the community would turn around on me or downplay my ideas.

These are thought-provoking questions I am thankful to have and I allow my conscious to recognize they are all driven by fear.

We, human beings, are social animals. Along with our instinct to self-protect, we have a desire to belong, to connect and an even greater desire to find meaning in our experiences. Our whole evolution has been a product of our ability to survive harsh circumstances due to our ability to cooperate. That’s to say we have learned to observe and understand networks and resources around us. We have come to exchange information and resources in support of each other’s goals and/or a mutual gain.

Going into the 21st century, some of us are looking to advance our ways of cooperation to collaboration, which is much harder to achieve.

Collaboration has become a buzzword, unfortunately, but it is essential to our collective being. It is about working together in hopes of creating a shared vision. For us to be able to collaborate (not cooperate) we need to first shift our mental stigmas to believe that there is no zero-sum but plus-sum instead. We need to believe we are enough and that the pie is enough and there is enough sand for everyone to play in. We need to be willing to make ourselves vulnerable in pursuit of an interest bigger than ourselves.

The problem, however, is that majority of us still aren’t ready to accept the concept of unconditional, compassionate love.

We feel extremely vulnerable and proud to take risks. We choose (for the hundred times) the same solution that has proven ineffective over a solution that’s new and unseen because the first option is presented is a known (meaning everyone else leverages it). The fear of vulnerability, rejection, and failure stops us from caring, connecting, collaborating; and ultimately from innovating.

In HR, we, too, suffer from this tension. More than often, we’d rather be right than to understand or to challenge our realities. We rather ‘think’ of good ideas than to act. We rather please than to upset. As a result, we end up leading by fear, instead of love.

I am completely in love my profession and function; yet, to expect the future to come from a place of comfort signifies that “we mistake the need to think with the urge to know.” So, I can’t help but wonder… Are we not curious about the potential of the future to not take some risk today?

For those willing to take a step forward, here are a few challenges I put out to myself and to our community:

  1. Allow self the luxury of discomfort. Until we learn to grow a sense of comfort around discomfort and exercise our true purpose and courage, no one else will inside our organizations. I invite us to be the leading role models to be well, to do well, to relate well.
  2. Do not accept any mandate out of fear, guilt, the desire of an approval. Extrinsic motivators are important but they are not as much of a fuel to sustainable results and our wellbeing. Trust that we are holistic beings capable to overcome any challenge. I invite us to lead from the heart and a place of loving.
  3. Act with kindness and generosity. Starting with self, exercise compassion. I can’t tell you how many business and HR leaders believe compassion and management don’t go hand in hand. This is untrue. Just because we are unsure how to put the two together doesn’t mean it is not achievable. We can start by assuming positive intent and offering a positive interpretation. Whether it is a smile, some time or offering someone critical feedback for their development, I invite us to be generous in our giving.
  4. Make space for ALL people. When I started my career a wee time ago, I was told HR was designed to be working with employees. Nowadays, I find more organizations asking their HR professionals to focus on management (in hopes to avoid employee claims). I have always argued and will continue to argue HR needs to hold equal space between management, people and organization to maintain justice and equity. I invite us simply to hold the space.
  5. Cherish presence and solitude. Despite how much may be waiting for us at our desks and it is often more than we can bear, we have to remind ourselves day-dreaming matters. We matter. Our wellbeing matters. And people matter equally when we are with them.
  6. Fall in love with learning. It is a fact the majority of our HR colleagues have not been schooled in the field or in business. This IS okay. The concept of schooling is outdated today, too. Not having the right knowledge or skill to lead an organizational design conversation should not stop us from wanting to learn how to. If we want to bring differentiated value to the business, then, I invite us to take hold of our professional expertise.

Future doesn’t exist without a current activity of today. We are all artists of our lives. For those of us in HR, we need to recraft our artisanship in business. We need to collaborate on reconsidering what we create, promote and allow inside our organizations today to design a space of regeneration for tomorrow.

Are we ready to push the boundaries and collaborate towards leading by love?


  • 14 November 2018

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