In a recent of our “Have a Great and Impactful week!” messages, we have elaborated on what Leadership with Purpose means, and what seems to be the key Leaderships skills the corporate world needs to focus on in order to succeed. From Values to Vision, from Trust to Leading from the Heart it seems to be abundantly clear that “Soft is the new hard”.

Interestingly enough, in the last week, two articles on the subject (from relevant, though quite different personalities) emerged, bringing new perspectives to the same subject.

In a recent interview with Insider magazine, the CEO of the leading HR management consultancy Korn Ferry referred to the concept of a  'radically human' leader. He wrote:

“It's been a longstanding idea in business that emotions should be kept out of the workplace. Whatever's going on in your personal life, you leave it at home so you can bring your most productive self to work. But in a year when so many lines have become blurred — when the home has become work and people are so exhausted they couldn't possibly leave their personal experiences at the door — it's clear that this old-fashioned idea can't hold up much longer. I think that what the world is calling for now is radically human leadership — leadership that's based on humility, on not just showing empathy but having empathy, on being vulnerable, on being authentic”.

He develops the idea going beyond the pretty obvious (how leading this way would create a more enjoyable workplace for employees), and shares his experience of working with companies around the globe, that it will also lead to higher productivity and success. "People want to know that they're part of something bigger than themselves," he said. "They want to grow, they want to learn, they want to be loved, and they want to know what they do matters to somebody else. And our research clearly shows that companies that do those things will outperform."

He alerts for the fact that, of course, employees aren't just going to start suddenly opening up about their troubles, particularly if you haven't had a culture of radically human leadership before.

“Instead, start by connecting with your employees in smaller ways — asking about their weekends, their families, their hobbies. Over time, this will make them feel comfortable sharing some of the harder things going on in their life”. 

In today's virtual workplace, that also means being very purposeful about creating space for connection. If anything, he says “I've increased the amount of time I've spent just talking to my employees. When I do a Zoom call, never start out with the topic at hand — I'll try to make a connection with the people on the call first because it would have happened if we were in person”.

Coming from a completely different angle, in a recent article in HBR, the Dalai Lama commented that  “over the past nearly 60 years, I have engaged with many leaders of governments, companies, and other organizations, and I have observed how our societies have developed and changed, I am happy to share some of my observations in case others may benefit from what I have learned”. And the article illustrates that. One of the things I was impressed with was one of his key lessons:

“Cultivate peace of mind. As human beings, we have a remarkable intelligence that allows us to analyze and plan for the future. We have language that enables us to communicate what we have understood to others. Since destructive emotions like anger and attachment cloud our ability to use our intelligence clearly, we need to tackle them. Fear and anxiety easily give way to anger and violence. The opposite of fear is trust, which, related to warmheartedness, boosts our self-confidence. Compassion also reduces fear, reflecting as it does a concern for others’ well-being”. 

Values, Vision, “Sense of Purpose”, Trust, Leading from the Heart: all leadership practices that, I am in no doubt, will become, more than ever, the key leadership skills. Put it simply – they will all put the human being at the center of the action.

Have a great and impactful week!

Nuno Moreira da Cruz
Executive Director
Center for Responsible Business & Leadership 

This article refers to edition #91 of the "Have a Great and Impactful Week" Newsletter.
Subscribe here to receive the weekly newsletter