The world of work has gone beyond just a nine-to-five routine. With a significant number of employees working in a hybrid or remote office, enabling work to be done from anywhere, at any time, come a shift in terms of what people expect from their employers and leaders. Leaders can no longer take a top-down one size fits all way to leading teams. They’re expected to be more sensitive to the changing needs of their teams; they need to embrace “human” leadership, which emphasises empathy, adaptability, and focuses on the well-being and development of employees.
A March 2022 Gartner survey found that 90% of HR leaders believed that leaders must focus on the human aspects of leadership to success in today’s work environment; another Gartner survey from the same period, though, found that just 29% of employees think their leader is a human leader.
Here’s why “human” leadership is essential in today’s workplace:
Employee Expectations and Well-being
Employees today have higher expectations from their leaders. They want leaders who show empathy, understand their needs, and support their overall well-being. Research has shown that leaders who score highly as “human” leaders contribute significant business value by improving retention and increasing employee satisfaction. By prioritising the well-being of employees, “human” leaders create a positive work environment that fosters engagement, productivity, and loyalty.
Changing Work Dynamics
The nature of work has evolved, with remote work, hybrid work models, and increased reliance on technology. This has created new challenges for leaders in managing and engaging their teams. “Human” leaders recognise the importance of adapting to these changes and finding innovative ways to connect with and support their employees. They understand that effective leadership goes beyond addressing work needs and extends to supporting the life needs of employees.
Building Trust and Collaboration
Trust and collaboration are crucial for a thriving workplace. “Human” leaders prioritise building trust by fostering open communication, transparency, and inclusivity. They create a safe space where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas, concerns, and feedback. By promoting collaboration and teamwork, “human” leaders harness the collective intelligence of their teams and drive innovation.
Employee Development and Growth
Investing in employee development and growth is a key aspect of “human” leadership. These leaders understand that by helping their employees develop new skills and reach their full potential, they contribute to the long-term success of both the individual and the organisation. “Human” leaders provide mentorship, guidance, and opportunities for learning and advancement.
Putting “Human” Leadership into Practice
So, how can organisations foster “human” leadership? It comes back to three pillars, as identified by Gartner: adaptivity, empathy, and authenticity. Here are some strategies organisations can implement towards this:
1. Leadership Development Programmes:
Provide training and development opportunities for leaders to enhance their emotional intelligence, empathy, and communication skills.
2. Employee Feedback and Recognition:
Encourage regular feedback and recognition to create a culture of appreciation and support.
3. Flexible Work Policies:
Adopt flexible work arrangements that prioritise work-life balance and accommodate the diverse needs of employees.
4. Promote Diversity and Inclusion:
Foster an inclusive work environment that values diversity and ensures equal opportunities for all employees.
5. Lead by Example:
Leaders should embody the qualities of “human” leadership and serve as role models for their teams.
By embracing “human” leadership, organisations can create a workplace culture that attracts and retains top talent, drives innovation, and achieves long-term success.
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