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Truly Human Leadership: Tips To Make You A Better Leader

By Nicky Chenery, General Manager, EMEA, SafetyCulture

One thing I’ve learned throughout my career is that every great leader always has an equally great team behind them. Now more than ever, teamwork and effective leadership are critical as we face up to the unknown, learn together, and adapt to changing circumstances.

In the last couple of decades, few have done it better than Bob Chapman, recently named the #3 CEO in the world by an Inc. magazine article. He’s moved away from traditional management practices to hone a people-first approach called Truly Human Leadership. Forget about quarterly goals, egos, and even ROI. Focus on the people. The guiding principle here is to create an environment where employees feel valued, cared for, and like they’re an integral part of the company’s purpose. 

It may be counterintuitive to traditional ways of thinking about business management. Those in leadership have long been taught a definition of performance and profit that leaves people out of the equation. In truth, caring shouldn’t be a novelty, it should be the norm.

The human dimension of business 

Repeated editions of Gallup’s employee engagement survey have illustrated the significant emotional attachment many of us have with our work, while a survey from the University of Phoenix prior to the pandemic found that half of us have experienced burnout at work.

No doubt the pandemic has increased these pressures. In fact, OC Tanner’s Global Culture Report revealed that burnout levels have grown by 15% during the pandemic, with the most toxic cultures seeing burnout levels as high as 81%. The report highlighted the significant implications of this for organisations, with employees suffering from burnout more likely to take time off and also more likely to underperform when they are at work.  

Connecting people, purpose and performance in business

Alongside the sharp rise in stress during the pandemic has been a migration towards remote work that has given coworkers a glimpse into the personal lives of their team members like never before.  Not only do our video screens provide a snapshot of our homes, but managers have become more aware of challenges involving homeschooling, caring for sick relatives, redundancies and other financial worries in the household.

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Traditionally there has been a level of skepticism around just how much leaders and managers should delve into non-professional areas of their team members’ lives.  Is it the norm, for example, to worry about the physical health of an employee or whether they’re involved in volunteering work in their local community?

The increasing answer is yes. In their recent book, Wellbeing at Work, Gallup’s Jim Clifton and Jim Harter argue that employee wellbeing is now a multi-faceted concern that includes career wellbeing, social wellbeing, financial wellbeing, physical wellbeing, and community wellbeing, with all five elements contributing to our overall happiness at work. Here at SafetyCulture we offer access to Employee Assistance Programs to support mental health.

Truly Human Leadership

All this contributes towards a growing show of support for Bob Chapman’s principles of Truly Human Leadership. Chapman is set to share his experiences and philosophy at the SafetyCulture Summit: Made Extraordinary, a free 2-day event set to inspire working teams around the world. For now, take a sneak peek at the four tenants of Truly Human Leadership that have resonated with me. 

  • Be a steward, be a leader – there’s a clear and growing desire among workers today to not only feel valued and appreciated at work but to also feel as though they’re making a positive contribution to their workplace and to society more broadly.  It’s the leader’s role to help make that a reality.
  • Listen with empathy – we’ve seen earlier in this article a growing case for being interested in the whole lives of employees, and to do this requires us to truly care about employees as people rather than inanimate cogs in our corporate machines.  Showing genuine interest in our team is a vital part of modern leadership.
  • Recognise and celebrate the goodness in people – it’s often the case that we only tap into a tiny fraction of the talents our teams have, which is not only wasteful but also a dereliction of our duty to truly celebrate our people for everything they bring to our organisations.
  • Success lies in the way you touch the lives of others – we’ve already seen rapid growth in the adoption of triple bottom line accounting and there’s a clear desire now for our organisations to make a positive impact on their communities and on the wider world. This starts with a people-centric approach to leadership that should go beyond profits and KPIs.
Bob Chapman will share his experiences and philosophy on Truly Human Leadership at the SafetyCulture Summit: Made Extraordinary, a free 2-day event set to inspire working teams around the world.  Learn how organisations can achieve extraordinary success through great teamwork. Reserve your FREE seat today.




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