Fostering Human-Centric Leadership in Today’s Modern World
Leaders of today are required to influence differently than they have ever before, and it goes way beyond being an expert in your respective area of expertise. In this week’s blog, we will be taking a deeper dive into the human-to-human aspect of leadership by exploring the soft skills required to be a human-centric leader.
This is a very personal topic for me as I have met some amazing leaders throughout my leadership journey working in the corporate world, and over the past decade, supporting leaders as a leadership coach and consultant.
This may not come as a surprise to you, but the leaders who really resonated and inspired me were those who had the ability to connect with me on a “human level”. They took the time to connect with me to understand my background, my story and what brought me to the place where we were at that point in time. They asked me what I aspired to do, what I was passionate about, and how they could support my success. They were empathetic, compassionate, and kind. Don’t get me wrong, they were also all about delivering results for the organization, but the way they went about achieving those results was different.
You might be smart, agile and an excellent strategist. You can see the big picture and are a visionary who is also decisive and can build an effective strategy and plan. These are all terrific qualities and, in my opinion, these attributes and others like them only get you halfway to your goal of becoming an effective, inspiring leader who puts people at the top of their priority list.
The abilities that are most often associated with great leadership – business savvy, intelligence, vision, decisiveness, and others come from the head. They allow leaders to guide their people to perform at a high level, increase profits and make an organization look great on a balance sheet.
As a leader, it’s likely that you already excel when it comes to the qualities and attributes that come from the head. However, if you want to improve your leadership abilities and take your performance to the next level, it’s time to focus on the type of leadership qualities that come from the heart. We call this human centric leadership. Human-centric leadership encompasses attributes like emotional intelligence (EQ), self-awareness, compassion and mindfulness, which are essential to achieving collective success.
What is Human-Centric Leadership?
In Gartner’s latest e-book,Top 5 Priorities for HR Leaders in 2023, they expand on the human-to-human dynamic in the workplace that pushes leaders to display human-centric leadership qualities such as authenticity, empathy and adaptivity. These traits have been noted for quite some time as key qualities of great leaders, but they were considered nice to have and in today’s modern world employees are demanding them.
Here is an overview of the framework that defines what Gartner calls “Human Leadership”:
Authentic - Act with purpose and enable true self-expression for themselves and their teams.
Empathetic - Show genuine care, respect, and concern for employee well-being.
Adaptive - Enable flexibility and support that fit the unique needs of team members.
= Human Leadership
I absolutely love this framework and would add compassion to this overview as a fourth must-have soft skill to create an environment that encourages individual and collective success.
Compassion can be defined as a willingness and desire to be kind to others. It means being thoughtful and aware of what others’ lives and experiences are like. It is the opposite of indifference, and it is one of the essential qualities that determines, quite frankly, whether one is a decent human being.
It’s related to the qualities of sympathy and empathy, and at its root, it describes a deeper sense of understanding. In fact, the word’s origin means “to suffer with.” This suggests that compassion means more than seeing others as separate entities; it means seeing them as a part of yourself and relating to what they are experiencing at a much deeper level.
Why Is Compassion Also Critical to Human Centric Leadership?
Compassionate leadership is more than just a feel-good add-on to your tool belt of skills. It’s a requirement of modern leaders who want to navigate their people and organizations to sustainable success and a brighter future. There might have been a time when compassion was viewed as weakness. Those days are long gone. Today, leaders are expected to treat their people with a greater sense of caring and humanity and to respect the unique attributes and qualities each person brings to the team and organization.
Authentic, empathetic, adaptive, and compassionate leaders are:
- More engaging, and nurture high levels of employee engagement
- Build robust, trusting relationships at all levels
- Inspire greater collaboration within organizations and create a safe space for others to perform at their best
- Inspire authenticity in others, and encourage human to human engagement at all levels within the organization
- Create environments where employees feel a greater sense of commitment to each other and their organizations
How to Be a More Human-Centric Leader
If you want to fine-tune the soft skills required to be a more human-centric leader, remember that your heart is a muscle, and muscles require exercise.
You are a leader, but that doesn’t mean you know it all. If you’re good at your job, you’ve surrounded yourself with intelligent people who possess the right skills and knowledge, so listen to them and solicit their feedback and perspectives. Give them the chance to contribute their expertise and showcase their strengths. Thinking you know it all can damage relationships and create disengagement – no one wants to work for a know-it-all. Instead, be open to the growth that can come from being vulnerable and allowing yourself to learn from others.
Your ability to listen and learn will be enhanced tremendously by your willingness to communicate with others more mindfully and by being present. Don’t monopolize meetings and conversations. Give people room to express themselves. And remember, some of your team members may need more time to do this than others. Ask thoughtful questions and stay present so you can receive thoughtful answers.
What are your thoughts on this concept of human-centric leadership? We want to hear your feedback and insights on this topic, so please reach out.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 1.855.871.3374.