‘Head’ and ‘heart’ attributes are brought to the forefront of modern leadership in a recently published book by UNSW Canberra alumnus, Dr Kirstin Ferguson AM.

You – and anyone – can be a modern leader. It takes both head and heart according to UNSW Canberra alumnus and one of Australia’s most prominent leadership experts, Dr Kirstin Ferguson.

Dr Ferguson says leaders are not just heroic figureheads with positions of power; it is all of us, from all walks of life – a university student, a parent, or even the Prime Minister of a country.

Dr Ferguson firmly believes leadership should be re-defined. This is what she set out to achieve in her recently published and best-selling book Head & Heart: The Art of Modern Leadership.

“It is important to remember you are already leading, whether you realise it or not,” Dr Ferguson said.

Head & Heart: The Art of Modern Leadership is a book for the everyday person, designed to encourage people to rethink the way we have thought about leaders for centuries.

Using quantitative research and academic literature, Dr Ferguson identifies eight leadership attributes that are key ingredients for a modern leader. Dr Ferguson also developed the Head & Heart Leader Scale which anyone can take to measure their own head and heart leadership. It only takes 5 minutes and you will receive a free, personalised report.

Eight leadership attributes are key ingredients of modern leadership. Content: Head & Heart: The Art of Modern Leadership. Image: UNSW Canberra

“The concept of modern leadership is broader than simply thinking about our formal authority or positions of power,” Dr Ferguson said.

“If we continue to accept leaders are only those with formal title and responsibilities who manage or control others, then we continue to exclude, rather than include, most people who are leading in their lives and workplaces,” she said.

Leadership should be and is for everyone. Afterall, leadership is defined in the book as “a series of moments, and every moment leaves a legacy for those we lead”.

It means that leadership is accessible to everyone – we just need to choose to take the opportunity to capture the moment and lead.

“It only takes a single fleeting moment to lead in a way that could impact someone else and leave a positive legacy in your wake. Just focus on the next moment you can make a difference,” Dr Ferguson said.

Dr Ferguson recalls in the book a vivid memory as a second-year Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) trainee, positioned to lead a small group of her peers during a physically and mentally demanding exercise. A seemingly simple “say seen if seen” approach would prove monumental in conquering the mountain, literally, and capturing the fleeting moment to lead.

“ADFA offered me a significant foundation to learn about leadership including what works, and just as importantly, what doesn’t,” Dr Ferguson said.

Since her early ADFA training days, Dr Ferguson has seen her leadership style continuously adapting throughout her career.

“I began leading in the military which was very different to leading in a corporate law firm which was then different again to leading a group of psychologists in an international consulting organisation. As a board director for more than a decade, I need to lead through influence which requires a different approach again,” she said.

“It is head and heart leaders – modern leaders – who are best placed to tackle today’s world,” Dr Ferguson said.

Head & Heart: The Art of Modern Leadership is a timely reminder that we are all capable leaders – at home, in the workplace or school, and beyond.

“We all have the ability to lead with our heads and our hearts and the most powerful way to do that is to integrate the leader we are at home with that at work – a modern leader with the head and heart in every context of our lives,” she said.

Modern leadership is within all of our abilities and is for everyone.

Head & Heart: The Art of Modern Leadership is available to purchase from various retailers in hardcopy, audiobook and e-book.