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Business School Annual Lecture 2011

Experts declare pride, passion and love as vital to deal with local, national and global change

Kersten England and Roger Steare at York St John Business School Annual Lecture 2011Businesses, civic leaders and citizens must connect with their humanity to foster a culture of caring if they are to deal effectively with financial, social and political change according to City of York Council CEO, Kersten England and corporate philosopher Professor Roger Steare.

Speaking at the York St John Business School Annual Lecture, their clear message to the 85 local business leaders, public service providers, academics and students was that a new ethical mindset is required to handle the fallout from the global economic downturn, climate change and growing social inequality.

In her presentation entitled ‘Pride and Passion – local government in its element’, Kersten England explained why she is passionate about protecting and encouraging participation in local democracy which she believes is crucial to empowering the people of York, unlocking talent and the pursuit of prosperity.

“Civic leaders across the country face a number of challenges including budget deficit reduction, how to deliver the Big Society agenda and voter apathy,” said Kersten England.  “But ask the question ‘what kind of place do we want York to be?’ and that puts a different perspective on local democracy.  That’s why we have to be proud and passionate about civic leadership, encourage citizens who have a stake in our city to participate and support good governance.”

Building on the ‘caring’ theme in the second lecture was Professor Roger Steare with his presentation ‘The Power of Love in Business’.  Roger, who advises major businesses and public sector bodies including HSBC, BP and the FSA (Financial Services Authority), believes that society as a whole would benefit greatly if boardrooms were filled with corporate leaders who brought their humanity into the workplace.

“Love and business are words that do not often get connected,” said Roger.  “But although love is deep rooted in human nature, all too often it is absent from the business world where utility and ‘getting things done’ is the order of the day.”

According to Roger, if we do not bring our whole ‘self’ to work – including our empathy – we lack integrity and objectives such as hitting sales targets are therefore only achieved at the expense of the values we normally stand for outside the workplace.  Institutions had been built on the assumptions that logic and reason comes before emotion and, therefore, expressing our feelings in the workplace is inappropriate.  However, his ongoing research highlights that showing we really care adds value to our business proposition.

The Annual Lecture was introduced by Jackie Mathers, dean of York St John Business School.

Jackie said, “With their refreshing approach to leadership and management, it was a real privilege to have Kersten and Roger present for us at our Annual Lecture, which marks the third anniversary of the Business School.  Both presentations were extremely very thought-provoking and I hope everyone attending will have taken away some ‘food for thought’ that they otherwise wouldn’t have considered.”

For details of future York St John Business School events call 01904 876915 or email business.school@yorksj.ac.uk.