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Humanistic Leadership: a New Era of Leadership Has Begun


Humanistic Leadership: a New Era of Leadership Has Begun

Scientific management is dead. Our world increasingly needs us to show up in a more human way, and we can see more and more evidence of it if we carefully look around.

Research from the global consultancies and predictions for the future of work all point to the increasing need to be more human. In Deloitte’s recent article, they state that the changing nature of work will inevitably result in “the reconfiguration of jobs to leverage uniquely human skills: empathy, social and emotional intelligence, the ability to set context and define business problems.” Translation? The call to action for our workforce is to be more human or risk being replaced by robots.

This has major implications for leadership. In my last blog, I alluded to the days of scientific management becoming increasingly obsolete due to globalisation and technology. Command and control styles and managing by presenteeism does not work in a world where our workforces are dispersed, diverse, and mobile. Nor is the majority of the workforce willing to tolerate a manager looking over their shoulder anymore.

We are in the midst of a radical leadership evolution. With the changing nature of work, the dawn of a new era of leadership has been slowly rising, the Era of Humanistic Leadership.

Humanism can be broadly defined as having a strong concern for human well-being and values. This mindset fundamentally recognises two things:

  1. All people have something valuable and positive to contribute
  2. All people should be treated with dignity and respect

Humanistic Leadership, then, embraces these ideas and invites leaders to lead in a fundamentally different way, which presents a significant paradigm shift.

Let’s explore this paradigm shift in more detail.

  1. From buzz words and corporate jargon to real talk and plain speak – Humanistic Leaders recognise that building relationships through authenticity is paramount to gaining trust and respect. Inauthentic communication filled with jargon and sales pitches will not serve leaders in the new paradigm. Rather, real talk and plain speak, (aka the way we speak to our families and friends) will build the trust the workforce is looking for.
  2. From professional workers to whole human beings – leaders must start to recognise workers as whole human beings first rather than cogs in a wheel. The people we lead and interact with everyday have the same human emotions we experience; they dream, they struggle, they persevere. They have hobbies and interests and lead whole lives apart from who you might see or assume they are at work. This makes them unique with diverse experiences and perspectives that should be celebrated and can contribute great creativity in the workplace.
  3. From leaders as decision makers to leaders as enablers – human leaders park their egos and do not see themselves as “better” or “higher” than others. They recognise their teams as equals and valuable contributors. They coach and ask questions to allow others to arrive at their own solutions rather than impose their way of thinking and operating on others. They don’t get in the way, they get out of the way.
  4. From working on weaknesses to highlighting strengths – Humanistic Leaders look for the good in others and know that all individuals have unique strengths to contribute. These leaders seek to lift others up to let them shine. As one of my recent clients put it, “they believe in you”.
  5. From what you do to who you are – we have become obsessed with doing and achieving, diminishing our ability to focus on ourselves, who we are, and our natural strengths. We achieve to demonstrate our value, when actually the real value comes from the attributes we seek and value from each other – empathy, compassion, acceptance, and dare I say, love.

Let’s imagine for a moment that our world’s leaders all operated as Humanistic Leaders. Think about how engaged our communities, workforce, and children would be or how the feelings of guilt, anger, and shame might start to dissipate. If we fully embraced this way of being, we would truly be at our best. So then what holds us back? Actually, nothing….

In the news headlines of today, it is easy to get lost in stories of poor appalling leadership. However, the Humanistic Leadership movement has started. We need to raise the magnifying glass on these role models in society to build hope and inspiration for more and more examples to arise. Afterall, we all know someone who leads like this. They make us feel comfortable, alive, and valued. We would follow this person into battle. This is the very definition of “engagement”, what every organisation, team, and leader seeks today in the workplace.

Do you have a story, role model, or experience of Humanistic Leadership? Share your stores and photos on instagram, hashtag #HwL, and follow us @humans_who_lead.

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