Bringing Truly Human Leadership to the UN

September 28, 2022
  • Bob Chapman
  • Bob Chapman
    CEO & Chairman of Barry-Wehmiller

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to present our Truly Human Leadership journey to many different audiences.

Whether to leaders in the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Military, or the healthcare industry, global CEOs, the Aspen Ideas Festival, or to business schools such as Harvard University, Fordham, Washington, University in St. Louis and others, my goal has been the same.

Through the Barry-Wehmiller story, I want to show people the impact business can have on people’s lives. That business can be a powerful force for good. That the way we lead impacts the way people live.

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to highlight our initiatives at all levels to bring our message to educational institutions during the United Nations Transforming Education Summit on a panel organized by PRME (Principles for Responsible Management Education.) You can watch my presentation in the video below:


This is how Sanda Ojiambo, Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director and CEO of the U.N. Global Compact, described the panel in which I participated, “Educate the Educator: Transformative Pedagogies for Innovative Leadership Skills in the Private Sector.”

There is an urgent need to call for system-level commitment from governments, private sector, and business schools and universities in a mutual bottom-up/top-down approach to change the role of higher education institution educators by developing actionable, rewarded and institutionally supported practices and pedagogies that will scale up innovative global management education towards the (sustainable development goals.)

As PRME said in their press release of the event: “Traditionally, business schools and business faculties have not been sufficiently equipped with the holistic training necessary to give students the tools to address the world’s systemic problems as future managers and leaders.”

I would change the last line of that statement to say that students haven’t been given the tools to address the world’s systemic problems as future leaders. They’re being taught to be managers already. What they need to be taught is how to be leaders.

As I often say, I define management as the manipulation of others for your success. But leadership is the stewardship of the lives entrusted to you. A profound difference. What we are suffering from in this world is leadership malpractice and I am proud to have presented that perspective to the U.N. 

I was invited to speak at the Transforming Education Summit by Mette Morsing, Head of PRME. PRME has a mandate from the United Nations' Secretary General to transform management education. Today, PRME is the U.N.'s largest global initiative on sustainability in leadership education for the SDGs, Sustainable Development Goals.

I met Mette through our work with the Humanistic Leadership Academy, of which PRME is a partner organization. You’ll recall that this group – comprised of business leaders and professors from around the world – have a goal to transform business education to be more humanistic and people-oriented. They want to transform business education from being institutions that train people to “manage” into institutions that foster humanistic leaders who honor individual dignity and demonstrate the courage to care for others.

The Humanistic Leadership Academy recently had another meeting of cohorts at our BW Papersystems facility in Phillips, Wisconsin. Their numbers are growing and you can following along with their progress or join the effort yourself on their new website.

Leading this focused effort are BW’s Director of Strategy, Improvement and Culture, Brian Wellinghoff, and Michael Pirson, an Associate Professor of Management, Global Sustainability, and Social Entrepreneurship at Fordham University and Research Fellow at Harvard University.

We very excited that through Brian’s work with the Humanistic Business Academy, he has been invited to speak at the Human Flourishing Forum, a two-day event November 3-4 at the Vatican.

The Human Flourishing Forum is a gathering of luminaries and stakeholders to explore human flourishing research efforts to-date and facilitate closer collaboration between academic, government and corporate actors invested in ensuring every person on Earth understands what they need to flourish. The Forum is intended to catalyze both awareness and action towards accelerating human flourishing. 

Within the span of a couple of months, the principles of Truly Human Leadership and the change they can bring to business and to people’s lives will be presented at the U.N. and the Vatican!  

We at Barry-Wehmiller have been blessed with a message that can change the world. We’ve seen the change it brought to our company and the lives of those here within our span of care. As we were told a long time ago, we would be selfish if we did not share our experience with others.  

It is rewarding to have the opportunity to share our message to organizations with worldwide reach like the U.N. and the Vatican and we will continue to share it far and wide until Truly Human Leadership is not the outlier, it is the norm.

(All photos courtesy of the United Nations)

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