Articles 2 min read

Developing Great Leaders: The Human Workplace Perspective by Ashley Lipman

Are great leaders born or made? Some would argue that only those born with certain personality traits grow up to be leaders. Others argue that leadership skills are developed as one grows, through practice and education. Most likely, both factors play a significant role in how someone turns out.

Whether you’re on the side of nature or nurture, one thing remains the same: employees in a workplace setting need to be given opportunities for growth to become great leaders. Here are some considerations for the leaders of today when influencing the leaders of tomorrow.

Look at Potential, Not Circumstance

One thing many leaders fail to do when looking at the next generation is assessing potential rather than getting caught up on circumstance. They fail to see that the driven, self-made individual who got their bearings at community college as equal to someone who had an Ivy-league education bought and paid for. These factors are considerations of the whole person but don’t aptly convey someone’s potential for greatness. When a leader can’t look beyond circumstance, they fail to become great leaders themselves.

A great leader can see someone for not only who they are, their favourite business applications and their work style, but what they can do. They have an innate ability to identify bright spots within a person and polish them until they shine. They focus not on overcoming weaknesses but capitalizing on strengths.

Conveying Human Emotions

The myth that there should be dividing lines between one’s personal and work life is still running rampant today. While there are certainly behavioural boundaries pertaining to professionalism, leaders need to move past the idea that being professional means being disconnected, flat, and lacking emotion.

Great leaders are able to convey their emotions as a human, showing authenticity and reliability to their subordinates. They encourage the same in those they hope will follow in their footsteps and become the great leaders of the future. They need to show that it’s ok to say “I’m having a hard day because of things at home” or share personal achievements as well as professional ones.

One of the main points of contention is crying at work. As people spend a large portion of their lives at work (anywhere from one third to one half of their existence), it’s not surprising that emotions can run high. Great leaders know how to handle these situations and help someone through them, so they don’t recur on a regular basis, rather than causing shame at a natural human reaction.

Effective Communication

Great leaders know how to communicate beyond small talk at the watercooler, and teach their employees to do the same. They know how to listen actively, in a way that allows them to completely understand another human before they respond. They know how to speak in a way that compels others to listen. Perhaps most importantly, they know how to convey authority without using fear tactics or being rude.

To communicate effectively, one must listen without judging the other person, showing empathy and compassion. They are aware of body language, both the other person’s and their own. They ask clarifying questions and confirm that they’ve understood what was being said. Finally, they’re present in the moment, refusing to be distracted. Only with these skills can a leader create a human-centric organizational culture and model the respectful behaviour that will shape leaders of the future.

What it Means to Make Work “Human”

Creating a human environment at the workplace necessitates leaders to become well versed in whole person development. They need to understand that different personalities will have to come together to be successful and to do so, they must be considered as someone beyond the scope of their job.
To create the next generation of leaders, today’s leaders must focus on making leaders, rather than expecting them to be born with the skills it takes to succeed. They also need people who will follow and execute a vision, as the followers of today have the potential to be the leaders of tomorrow.

This article is brought to you exclusively by The Business Transformation Network.

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