In our assessments, surveys and interviews with over 1,000 leaders, many comments stood out, but one in particular was especially powerful and thought-provoking. “Leadership today,” Javier Pladevall, CEO of Audi Volkswagen, Spain, told us, “is about unlearning management and relearning being human.”
What Pladevall means is that the power of leadership lies in our abilities to form personal and meaningful bonds with the people whom we lead.
The problem is that about 70% of leaders rate themselves as inspiring and motivating, but this stands in stark contrast to how employees perceive their leaders. As leaders, we must be humans before managers. Based on our work in creating more human leaders, here are a few tips:
— BE PERSONAL. 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. When making decisions that have an impact on employees, he asks himself: If my child or parent or good friend worked here, would they appreciate this decision?
— BE SELF-AWARE. Leadership pioneer Peter Drucker said, “You cannot manage other people unless you manage yourself first.”
— BE SELFLESS. Leadership is not about you, but about the people and the organization you lead. 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 benefit of others?
— BE COMPASSIONATE. 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.
(Rasmus Hougaard is the founder and managing director of Potential Project. Jacqueline Carter is a partner and the North American Director. Vince Brewerton is an organizational strategist and Canadian Country Director.)