A PRME Opportunity for Truly Human Leadership

June 26, 2023
  • Bob Chapman
  • Bob Chapman
    CEO & Chairman of Barry-Wehmiller

Last week, I implored university deans, administrators and professors from around the world to embrace their opportunity to transform business education to create tomorrow’s leaders.

Not continuing to create managers, but creating leaders with the skills to care for those they have the privilege to lead in our places of work, in our communities and at home.

It’s critical our business schools integrate the academic skills they teach with human skills.

I had the honor of speaking at the 2023 UN Global Forum on business education at Fordham University hosted by PRME (Principles for Responsible Management Education). You can watch it below:


PRME is a United Nations-supported initiative that engages business schools to ensure they provide future leaders with the skills needed to balance economic and sustainability goals. According to their website, PRME is the “largest organized relationship between the United Nations and management-related higher education institutions.”

You may recall that I previously had the opportunity to speak at the UN last fall at the PRME organized Transforming Education Summit, where I presented our vision of a shift from management to Truly Human Leadership and the need to re-think how business education should equip their graduates with both academic and human/caring skills.

There was a very strong response to our message. There is an evolving awareness of the need to transform business education and the response to our vision of leadership instead of management illustrated that desire.

And it couldn’t come a moment too soon. Gallup recently released their yearly State of the Global Workplace report. In the introduction, the question was asked, “What can leaders do today to potentially save the world?” Gallup’s answer: Change the way your people are led.

In this year’s State of the Global Workplace report, we estimate that low engagement costs the global economy $8.8 trillion. That’s 9% of global GDP — enough to make the difference between success and failure for humanity.

Poor management leads to lost customers and lost profits, but it also leads to miserable lives. Gallup’s research into wellbeing at work finds that having a job you hate is worse than being unemployed — and those negative emotions end up at home, impacting relationships with family. If you’re not thriving at work, you’re unlikely to be thriving at life.

Look at these statistics on the global workforce: Only 23% are thriving at work. 59% are “quietly quitting” (the idea that a person is not going above and beyond at work and just meeting their job description) and 18% are actively disengaged or “loudly quitting.”

Here are a few other concerning points in Gallup’s report:

  • Only 25% of people feel their organization cares about their wellbeing.
  • 33% would describe themselves as thriving at work, while 55% would say they’re struggling.
  • 51% of those currently employed said they are watching for or actively seeking a new job.
  • 85% of those considered to be quieting quitting were disengaged to issues related to engagement or culture, pay and benefits, or wellbeing-work/life balance.
  • Those same people said they would like to see everyone to get recognized for their contributions, they want their leaders to be approachable and able to have open conversations, they want to have clearer goals and more autonomy in their work to stimulate creativity.
  • These “quiet quitters” are waiting for a leader or a manager to have a conversation with them, encourage them and inspire them. These changes could turn them into productive team members.

Here’s a final statement from the report that is also telling:

Seventy percent of team engagement is attributable to the manager. But many or most of your managers are quiet quitting too. They are waiting for the tools to build great teams.

If better leaders are needed to “save the world,” then we need to teach them how to be better. However, I would say that they need to be given the skills to care, not manage. You can’t ask people to care for those you lead, you have to teach the skills to care which include teaching them to empathetically listen, to recognize and celebrate and engage in a culture of service to others. We need to help these future leaders realize that everyone in their span of care is someone’s precious child and not functions for their success.  

Students are still being taught to manage in many business schools around the world. And, as the statistics above show, that clearly isn’t working. Our journey from management to leadership has allowed us to see those in our care through a different lens. When your leadership shows your people that they matter, we find that they will tell you how it has improved their marriage and parenting. The way we lead impacts the way those in our care live!

Our relationship with UN PRME continues, as well as with other organizations such as Virginia Commonwealth University who are also partnering with us to transform business education. We appreciate an audience like the PRME Global Forum, but we will try to get our message in front of more and more business school administrators and professors. And try to help them give the next generation of leaders the tools and the courage to care.

After all, this is how we can “save the world.”


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