In our lives at least once, if we’re lucky, we experience the opportunity to work for a cause bigger than ourselves, to achieve a goal we never thought possible, or change the lives of those around us. That’s if we’re lucky. We think an experience like this is out of reach, but the truth is that we all want to be a leader who focuses on people rather than profit or on teams instead of timelines. The success of an organization is not solely based on developing a great product or service but has everything to do with investing in potential. An organization’s ability to achieve the impossible is a result of its people.
Successful leaders create a culture that inspires an organization to look out for people over a paycheck. These leaders emphasize the importance of the individual to support the diversity which makes up the whole. These are leaders who see possibilities instead of problems. An organization’s most valuable asset are the right people who put the needs of others ahead of themselves.
“If certain conditions are met and the people inside an organization feel safe among each other, they will work together to achieve things none of them could have ever achieved alone. The result is that their organization towers over their competitors.” ~ Simon Sinek
There are four habits successful leaders practice to embody the human side of leadership.
Trust. It is an easy word to say, but difficult to build. The act of building trust is a fragile endeavor. It means expressing empathy, exposing vulnerability, and embracing consistency. It takes initiating the effort and nurturing the relationship. Successful organizations are built on trust. Employees trust that leaders care more about their well-being than the organization, and in turn, employees care more about the organization than financial gain. A foundation of trust propels organizations to achieve the impossible.
Inspire. Every organization faces challenges along the way. Unexpected pressures can cause uncertainty and trepidation. It takes a human leader to spend time understanding internal and external concerns and conditions. Leaders need to be able to see the whole picture, seek input, and create a pathway for continued success. A clearly communicated vision propels organizations to achieve the impossible.
Sacrifice. Success is rarely achieved without sacrifice. Every organization encounters the need for change. As needs and demands shift, it is important for organizations to adjust in order to maintain relevance. Human leadership requires sacrifice be demonstrated from the top. Leaders who are unwilling to make the hard decisions in order to protect their people will lose trust. It is difficult to ask employees to maintain performance expectations with less resources when the leadership does not do the same. A decision to do without demonstrates commitment to the shared vision and propels organizations to achieve the impossible.
Courage. It is a word with many meanings depending on the situation. For a human leader, courage is the perseverance of seeing decisions through despite opposition, waning resources, or lack of interest. It is the belief that the trust earned, inspiration given, and sacrifice made result in a stronger organization because people are fulfilled, supported, and safe. It is a daily commitment of putting others before personal self-interest and financial gain. Courage is the act of seeing a decision through to the end because in the end the whole is greater than its parts. A belief that the worthwhile investment in the culture propels organizations to achieve the impossible.
Human leadership is about putting people first. Making the needs of individuals more important than the organization knowing that once people feel secure, they will put the needs of the organization first. In one word, human leadership is loyalty. Loyalty is not one-sided. Loyalty requires participation. Whether in organizations or in government positions, we cannot expect understanding if we are unwilling to understand. We cannot emphasize the needs of some when we ignore the needs of others. We cannot expect from others when we are unwilling to give of ourselves. We cannot expect to achieve our purpose when we diminish the contributions of others. Human leadership requires treating individuals with respect, encouraging the diversity of their unique perspectives, and focusing on the equality needed to be stronger together.
“Truly human leadership protects an organization from the internal rivalries that can shatter a culture. When we have to protect ourselves from each other, the whole organization suffers. But when trust and cooperation thrive internally, we pull together and the organization grows stronger as a result.” ~ Simon Sinek