A Compelling Argument for Enhancing Humanity in Leadership

By June 2, 2022 April 2nd, 2024 Articles on Leadership

Last Updated on April 2, 2024 by Dave Schoenbeck

You’ve likely heard about the lack of humans in humanity and the lack of humanity in corporate America. So how can we flip the script and elevate humanity in leadership? What is most important to you on a human level?

Starting with each executive —the true leaders of change — we can make a concerted effort to adopt authentic leadership theory to bring back humanity in leadership.

A young professional woman makes a heart sign indicating humanity and kindness

Read on to learn how you can lead with humanity and lead successfully.

How to Add Authenticity in Leadership

Humanity in leadership does not happen overnight. It’s through the effort in small steps that help more significant leaps. Even if your company operates as a train off its tracks, you can steer yourself back on course.

As Hubert Joly, former chairman, and CEO of Best Buy, says, “The world is facing a multifaceted crisis, whether it’s the health crisis, economic crisis, social-justice crisis, the environment…” followed by “leading with purpose and humanity is the way to go.”.

Joly embraced being vulnerable as a leader by changing how it had always done business. Its “noble purpose of enriching lives through technology did not just stay on some presentation slide. It fundamentally changed its strategy. It unleashed significant innovation and growth.”

Consider this mindset for humanity in leadership from the corporate level:

1 – Focusing only on profit is dangerous – profits will come and go if humanity is overlooked

2 – Focus on people, then the business, then the financials – placing the common good above profits keeps you grounded

3 – Put the noble purpose of the people and business first – link your purpose to your strategy to pursue the more extensive picture

4 – Move past the carrot-and-stick mentality – it’s only temporarily motivating

In all the above elements, it’s clear that humanity and what makes companies appeal to people is the human element. Everything else falls into place when a company’s priorities are set right.

Leading From the Future

Humanity in leadership is easy to study in hindsight. Studying their journey, you can learn how the Best Buy’s or Chik-Fil-A’s of the world include humanity. However, if you take it one step further, genuine leadership involves doing right by people first—now and always. 

Imagine what you want to see in your company in 3, 5, or 10 years. Are your actions today setting you up for that success in the future? Are you only using the human element until you can somehow replace them? Or are your people your core and everything else an ancillary?

Humanity in leadership is not just one thing, either. You’re also mindful of the past and present when you lead from the future. In addition, you’re considering the growth of the company and the impact it will have on the world around it. 

To set your team up for humanity in leadership, consider these steps:

1 – Connecting individual search for meaning with the company’s noble purpose fosters belonging – If an employee feels integral and aligned to the mission will strive to perform their best.

2 – Developing authentic human connections – Make it feel like family. Connection steps from “respect, trust, vulnerability, effective team dynamics, and diversity and inclusion.”

3 – Foster autonomy – Permit employees to shine. Let employees share and manage others and themselves when it makes sense.

4 – Grow mastery – Encourage everyone’s best. This encourages the employee to learn and become a master of what interests them.

5 – Nurturing a growth environment – You can see what’s possible at the employee level. Then, when you challenge your team to grow, your company will follow.

While there are many more ways to foster humanity from the employee and management levels, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The path will diverge and converge as you and your team grow. However, by focusing on people first, you start from a good spot that will set you up for future success.

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Coach Dave


Dave Schoenbeck
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