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07 June 2022

Become the human being within you. Become who you are!

Published by Elvire PROCHILO (TBS TOP EXECUTIVE CONSEIL, 2013) | N° 104 - 50 Shades of Leadership

Hired by his finance professor upon graduation in 1980, he was given a universal message in the transmission of knowledge, the power within: " I'm going to keep running and I'm going to help you catch up with me .”

Pierre Hurstel
(TBS 1980)
Founder of Matière à réflexion, Président de TBS Education


From the large group to the independent consulting firm, to better accompanying of managers

When Ernst & Young bought the firm he worked for, he took over the Audit Department. As an auditor of mutual and cooperative banks, he observed differences in the relevance of his mission depending on the size of the establishments, their territory of establishment, the management or the performance of the employees. Intrigued by the influence of the manager's personality on the audit mission, he deduced that these profiles have an important impact on the audit. As a result, he developed a grid to understand the behavior of managers with a psychiatrist to enrich the technical dimension of the auditing mission.

He took up his penchant for talent management and left to develop new approaches to leadership in Cleveland. He became, upon his return, the HR Director of a BU in Paris, then in France, Southern Europe and finally Global HR Director of Ernst & Young. This was the natural derivative of the starting point...



From audit to human resources management

A few months before the 2008 crisis, he felt the need to return to basics, to humility, both for his family and for himself. He felt that he could not continue his professional life with the same levels of comfort.

He thinks that we must be as close as possible to people and to leadership. He wants to help men and women to live in their company world, in the incomplete, the active, and the effort making . His conviction : Everything will move except the brain, which remains gregarious.

He senses changes in the digital sector, especially amongst younger generations. The "time of brothers and sisters" is replacing the "time of fathers". This is the moment when power shifts from vertical to transversal, when the question of differences will become key.

In 2012, while devoting two days a week to volunteer work, he decided to build himself the "cabin" in which he would carry out his missions and live his dreams. He created Matière à Réflexion, a leadership coaching firm, targeting women, young people and people in professional repositioning. Starting from scratch, he decided to put himself at their service to bring his piece to the puzzle with an innovative leadership style.



He developed a grid to understand the behavior of managers with a psychiatrist to enrich the technical dimension of the auditing mission.



He became the "little wise man who sits on the shoulder of leaders" or even the "absolute mentor", according to two of his clients.

The last twenty years have seen four major developments in the context of human resources management

First of all, the arrival of women in the management ranks during the 2000s provoked a shock in the army (especially in the US – very innovating), and in companies, in every country… It is a revolution about which we could write entire books. This was not easy for either women or men.

The crisis of 2008 was then a managerial shock for entrepreneurs and managers who had never experienced a crisis. Those who did not know how to do "less", who only knew how to increase salaries. It was necessary to create courageous experiments... The first inversion of the curves.

Then came the notion of negative externality, the fact that there was no plan B to save the planet. With brand responsibility, collective responsibility prevents entrepreneurial plundering... New shock. Negative externalities are now considered more.

More recently, the systemic fragility of COVID has turned all models on their head. It was not anticipated. People realized that they could die, like in the Spanish flu era.

According to Pierre, all this has had an impact on human resource management, which is no longer managed in the same way as it was 20 years ago. You don't integrate systemic externalities by pressing a spreadsheet, you don't solve a complex crisis without observing how teams bond together. .


it is necessary to be individually humble and collectively dream to create it.


If managing means creating the 'secret sauce', it is cooked differently in the four contexts described above. In a world where all systems need to be rebuilt, it is necessary to be individually humble and collectively dream to create it. It will only be built through innovation and collaboration.

Restorative leadership, THE posture of the leader at the service of his employees

Leadership is a skill to be distinguished from charisma, a false friend of the leader. Charisma is innate but can be ill advised because it can lead to an overly relaxed approach.


Deliver performance without damaging the team, the players in the company.


The servant leader is the one who describes what is real. He is at the service of his teams and in the end, he says thank you. He is in 'Care', in exemplarity, in non-violent communication. He uses laughter, he is humble, he is present. His job is to ensure the psychological safety of the players, seeking at all costs to put the employees in a position of power.

When the leader is a fixer, he or she can deliver performance without damaging the team, the players in the company: "We play on Saturday but we play again next Saturday with the same team and make it grow". It is a leadership of combat, amazing, demanding. There is no way out except in the Responsible Company, which can also be a place of self-repair. It has a duty to repair the other aspects of the personal lives of the actors. In this sense, the social and solidarity economy is not the only virtuous one, the classic company must be at the service of repair.

Leadership has no gender, women are also gifted

Similarly, there is no gender to leadership and little hope for the leadership styles of the past, in top-down authority.


The social and solidarity economy is not the only virtuous one, the classic company must be at the service of repair.


In coaching women, Pierre came to identify two qualities in them:

- A natural propensity to build human networks based on trust (Deborah Holmes): from the age of 4, while boys play marbles, 'girls sit around talking about things to find out who they can lean on'. They make assumptions about who has the power. Women are predisposed to a broad relational system and to the multitude, able to use solid connections through trust.

- Their apprehension of fragility exceeds that of men, who see it as a weakness. Women take into account the care of others. The last two years have shown that in addition to individual fragility, there is also systemic fragility. In particular, after talking to Catherine McGregor, CEO of Engie, Pierre noted how she embodies two strengths: a total absence of arrogance and a strong capacity to listen.

We need to stop grouping women together to rehash their impostor syndrome and we need to wash men down to erase the idea that they are averse to risk . They are not fighting for promotion, but their questioning approach on issues is a characteristic of their leadership.

Women's capacity is precisely their strategic vision.

Servant leadership to retain younger generations

Authoritarian leadership no longer has any chance of attracting young graduates to business. The attrition rates especially in the Tech and Digital worlds are signals of the beginning of a massive transformation. There are few resources and lots of money. Leaders are scrambling for hot skills and generating career volatility. Even so, young people sometimes pivot early on about their life choices and the meaning they want to give it. This is a global phenomenon.


Leadership behaviours need to be updated with those who make the link with their teams, their projects, their planet, their customers.


Faced with a shortage of talent, the bottom of the management pools is littered with old vehicles. Leadership behaviours need to be updated with those who make the link with their teams, their projects, their planet, their customers.

To retain talent, leadership style is going to be key and how it translates into profitability and performance is going to be decisive. There is a race between the right leadership style, meeting the market and turning it into success. There is no restorative leadership without confronting the market, in the real economy.

Pierre's dearest wish, as President of TBS Education, is to disseminate the learning of restorative leadership. He was elected President of TBS Education. This mandate, which was offered to him, came as a strategic surprise in his life. His work as President can only be done through his convictions. If he can help pedagogy to bring about restorative leadership, he will try to play his part and he is very honoured and committed to do so.

To conclude this interview, here are four pieces of advice from Pierre to students or alumni of TBS Education to develop their leadership.

Work a lot during your studies. You have to take advantage of all these connections, of all the challenges. You must also know how to build relationships, discover others, open up to teams.

Try to invent your life: dream about how each of you wants to or will do your job and release the creative potential of professional invention.

Alongside your professional life, make the most of your personal life. Don't find out too late in life that you have neglected your children, that you had had things to say to each other instead of being constantly on your phone , Find your personal signature: look for the typicality that makes you original and don't neglect it. Know how to become the specialist of your life where you will express a cultural talent, a philosophy for the planet. All the associations, the link to sustainable development, the diversity... this school is the place for all of these lives.

In short ... Become the human being that is in you. Become who you are!




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