Back in my corporate days, when I worked horrifically long hours and getting up at 4am to catch the red eye flight was the norm, leaders who could give me a reason to keep going and even better, to have fun, were few and far between. But they were there.

The types of leaders who stood far above the crowd for me were the people who lived somewhat differently to the rest. They were the ones who were supremely comfortably in their own skin, were confident making decisions with integrity and were guided by their own moral compass to do the right thing. They were not afraid to be different and express who they uniquely were as people; driven, pressured, caring, glorious, genuine, funny, sometimes sad, always them.

Things haven’t changed much today and it is still these types of ‘human’ leaders who impress the hell out of me. Leaders who have the ability to wake up to our own ‘humanness’ and honor the gifts that only our species have been given on this planet.

In the box of human tricks lies;

  • Consciousness – the human ability to become more and more aware of our own patterns of thoughts, emotions and belief’s; spending our lives enhancing, evolving and changing these for the good of ourselves and others
  • Curiosity – far from killing the cat or anyone else for that matter, the human ability to be curious about why things are happening in our lives and the role we play in creating them, allows us to make different decisions and work towards growing levels of awareness and maturity
  • Creativity – we are truly some of the most resourceful creatures in the universe aren’t we? From the discovery of fire to the invention of the wheel, to more recently the creation of the internet and nanotechnology, humans have an amazing ability to overcome adversity and create breathtaking solutions when we put our hearts and minds to it
  • Connection – When humans decide to connect fully, deeply and passionately to something, the results are stunning. Whether this is another person, a work project or our life vision, once connected we have the ability to move mountains if necessary in order to achieve our goals
  • Responsibility – Taking full responsibility for something often means transcending our own personal human needs and taking on responsibility for helping others to fulfill theirs. When fully committed, this becomes an enjoyable and satisfying act that nourishes our own sense of development, validation and happiness.

Human leaders are the people who bring all of these traits to some degree or another into their lives and their interactions with others. Human leaders harness these abilities not just at work but in guiding and enhancing their personal, spiritual and social lives as well.

One of my favorite quotes on this subject comes from the mouth of Ken Thiry, CEO of Da Vita, a company that strives to bring human interactions and values into every aspect of their business operations. He said:

In order to become a better leader, you need to become a better human. You need to approach becoming a better human with as much rigor, relentlessness and creativity that one uses to acquire traditional business skills’.

It is amazing how many people in positions of leadership seem to forget this in favor of focusing on targets, processes and the bottom line. Ironically, there is a massive amount of research available clearly demonstrating that in companies where a high percentage of leaders work to develop and enhance the human traits mentioned above, their commercial performance reaps the benefits. Employee satisfaction, loyalty, retention and performance all benefit from having leaders in place who demonstrate human skills and encourage those around them to do the same. You can imagine the positive effect this then has on their customers and the local community right?

Bingo! Literally, winners all round.

It was my years of experience working for both excellent human leaders and their nemesis’s (the self involved, egocentric managers) that really got me thinking about how you can develop these invaluable human leadership skills.

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