Phil Jones on… correlative leadership

23 March 2017 -


The Brother UK managing director talks about the four pillars of leadership that have helped him progress in his career

We are seeing a shift towards younger people becoming the power base within workplace culture. We are seeing far more people under 30 swelling the ranks of the middle. They want a completely different work experience than the generations before them, which is disrupting all elements of the way organisations work: structure, benefits, culture, onboarding, recruitment, retention…

This is why a new style of leadership needs to emerge for businesses. So how can you change the way you lead, and bolt new attributes onto your leadership style in order to be relevant in 2017? I have come up with four components of what I call ‘correlative leadership’:

  • physical leadership;
  • emotional leadership;
  • digital leadership; and
  • spiritual leadership.

Physical leadership

This pillar involves everything physical that affects leadership abilities: the design of your workplace, your own physical wellbeing, and even your understanding of neuroscience.

Neuroscience is a discipline that is becoming incredibly important for leaders in terms of understanding how we work. It is about being able to predict the way people might behave in certain situations, understanding ‘groupthink’ and knowing the role that hormones play in human behaviour.

To be effective, a modern leader has to understand it.

Emotional leadership

People have been talking about this for years, but I am still walking into workplaces where leaders lack emotional intelligence. Emotional leadership is something that people still haven’t got their heads around.

Until I reached my 30s, I had never really opened up emotionally. The environment I was in was all about moving up the corporate ladder. But it’s up to the individual to choose to develop their emotional intelligence.

With the help of a workplace psychologist, I made the choice to go down that road. It was the most powerful and impactful experience of my working life, but I would have found it very difficult had I not had someone helping me.

Digital leadership

This pillar is about how leaders are using digital platforms, not only to connect and communicate with people inside and outside of the workplace, but also to attract talent.

How you use external platforms as part of your overall corporate communications is now just as important as what you do with your internal communications. So how you expand your social and digital footprint is now hugely important.

At Brother, we learned this with apprentices. They research me as a leader to try to understand what sort of business we are. We’ve learned that parents are hugely influential in their children’s choice of employer, based on the career they want them to have.

Both the parents and the young person develop a sense of what it will be like to work for you based on the footprints you leave around the digital world. That makes thought leadership even more important, not just in terms of building your company’s brand, but also in terms of the way you appear to potential new recruits.

Spiritual leadership

The final pillar in correlative leadership is the spiritual side. This is often hard to digest. People wonder what spirituality has to do with the workplace, but it is actually strongly linked to purpose and human performance.

Running Brother for some years, I’ve realised that you get to see every element of human life, including death and grieving. In order to understand what people are going through, you need to have deep conversations.

That is transcending into a whole new space for managers.

People want to have more purposeful conversations to feel part of something bigger. The more you pull everyone together so that they feel like a community rather than just an organisation, the stronger will be the bonds between them and their resilience.

Phil Jones MBE CCMI is managing director of Brother UK, the printer company that was one of the first organisations to be recognised with an Investors in People Platinum award

Powered by Professional Manager