Leading With Humanity

The Midlands MagazineAugust 31, 2022

We sat down with author, business and leadership coach Peter Laburn and chatted about his new book. He sheds light on what leadership is and how we can become more authentic human beings.

It takes immense courage and bravery to go in a new direction in life, whether moving to a new city or country, quitting a job or starting a new business. It can feel like a herculean feat, but if we follow in the footsteps of others who have already done it, we might just find some strength, as the famous Tony Robbins always says: “Success leaves clues”.

But, with so many “How to” and “Five steps to this and three steps to that” books on the personal and professional development market nowadays, feels like we are constantly dancing with an array of concepts touting leadership, but have they missed the mark?

As a local resident in Nottingham Road, Peter (or Pete as he is usually known) is often described as a “catalyst for positive and enduring change”. He is passionate about showing others how they can nurture and cultivate the leader within themselves. His book Leading with Humanity, published in 2021, shares principles and philosophies about rethinking leadership and shifting its narrative.

This is not another “How to” book, and he describes it as “refreshingly different to any other leadership book”. It is well-referenced, easy to read, and for everyone, from mothers to managers – although those two terms could be interchangeable. With almost a lifetime of leadership experience, Peter has learned a thing or two.


His career is vast and spans time with several corporate companies in consumer marketing. After facing challenges and feeling the disconnect between what he was doing and who he wanted to be, he left the corporate world. In 1991 he started his own consulting business in leadership development named Peter Laburn International. He wanted to help others understand what a new South Africa would look like and that the older business models no longer fit the newer, postmodern systems. These experiences ultimately gave him the best footing in who he is as a human being now, leaving tracks worth following.

Peter was always interested in leadership; however, with an MBA, numerous leadership courses, and collaborations with “top leadership gurus” under his belt, he realised that “all the best theories didn’t translate into reality”.

During the 2000s, he started learning that leadership is not a “state of doing” but a “state of being”, explaining that “you don’t get to the office and turn it on. It’s an embodiment of who we are as individuals”. Being is at the heart of his message, and his book takes us on the “inside-out journey” of self-discovery. He believes that leadership is available to all of us, we merely need to choose it, and we can learn to lead.

In 2007 he also started the Lead with Humanity Foundation, which facilitates immersive leadership programmes in the bush. Over several days attendees learn to discover their inherent leadership capabilities under varying conditions. The bush has been in his blood for 60 years, and he understands firsthand the power that lies in nature, explaining that it has “so many answers for us”.

He uses the bush and tracking to learn more about ourselves, posing reflective questions like: “What are you tracking in your life?” and “What are you looking for?”. He explains more about the bush’s regenerative qualities: it has kinetic energy that the urban environment cannot give us.

Pete’s book, Leading with Humanity, is a treasure trove of wisdom that has you questioning how you choose to define yourself and show up in your life and the lives of others. Peter emphasises the importance of finding someone who can help instil in us a sense of self-belief to become who we authentically are, and to live our lives as human being and not as human doings.

While there is so much more we can say, we will leave you with one of Pete’s favourite quotes by Edward Teller: “When you come to the end of all the light you know, and its time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: either you will be given something solid to stand on, or you will be taught to fly”.  His hope is that his book, Leading with Humanity, will give readers both.


Words: Alicia du Plessis

Photo credit: : Robyn Davie Photography