Based on our work in creating more human leaders, here are a few tips:
Bob Chapman, CEO of Barry Wehmiller, a global manufacturing company, and author of Everybody Matters, has gone to great lengths to instill truly human leadership within the company. For all decisions being made, that has impact on employees, he asks himself: If my child or parent or good friend worked here, would they appreciate this decision? In this way he makes any managerial decision a personal question. He moves it from a tactical domain to an emotional domain, to make sure he is not blindsided by his status and power. Try the same when making decisions affecting your people. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine they are family members or friends.
Leadership pioneer Peter Drucker said, “You cannot manage other people unless you manage yourself first.” In a recent article, we shared how one CEO greatly enhanced the engagement and performance of the teams of the bank he leads, by becoming more self-aware. The story exemplifies how leadership starts with understanding and leading yourself. When you understand yourself, you are better able to understand and empathize with the people you lead, and in turn lead for their intrinsic motivation. Good leadership starts with self-awareness, and self-awareness can be greatly enhanced through the practice of mindfulness.
Dominic Barton, global managing director of McKinsey & Company, says that selflessness is the foundation of good leadership. Leadership is not about you, but about the people and the organization you lead. With selflessness, you take yourself out of the equation and consider the long-term benefits of others. Selflessness does not mean you become a doormat for others and refuse stand up for yourself. Selflessness comes out of self-confidence and self-care. Here is a simple way of checking whether you are selfless in your leadership: When you make decisions, check your motivation; are you doing it for personal gain, or for the benefits of others?
Compassion is the intention to bring happiness to others. If you have ever had a leader that was compassionate, you will know what it feels like. The person has your back. The person has your interest in mind. And, as a result, you feel safe, trusted, loyal, and committed. When it comes to leadership, nothing beats compassion. It is a universal language that is understood by anyone, anywhere. If you want to bring more compassion into your leadership, make a habit of asking one simple question whenever you engage with anyone: How can I help this person have a better day?