Human Centered Leadership is “inspiring and mobilizing people to tackle tough challenges and do things that matter.”
There’s a lot of “leadership soup” out here. Leadership styles, approaches, and philosophies are complex, wide-ranging, and very different. Some leadership styles promote the authority figure being “hands-on” and making all of the decisions, while others, expect them to be “hands-off” and willing to completely delegate the decision-making process to someone else. Some leadership styles require a unique personality type that is “charming and persuasive” and others require the leader to demonstrate a stoic and firm personality type who is willing to strictly adhere to the organization’s structure, protocols, and processes in order to follow rules and achieve pre-determined goals. Other management styles require the authority figure to develop and communicate a magical vision of the future, and/or unite followers with a feeling of purpose, and/or expect them to adjust to fit the specific needs of a situation. The list goes on and on….
Let’s face it….because there are so many variations and approaches to leadership, when times of crisis, chaos, or change come, trying to remember “which leadership style works best in this particular scenario” can feel overwhelming, confusing, and exhausting. This is especially true when the leadership and/or management approach we are expected or encouraged to follow doesn’t align very well with who we are as a person, nor, does it fit very well in most of the unexpected situations we find ourselves in. Most importantly, a miscalculation and misalignment of leader, follower, and situation organizations is very costly. Quite frankly, this practice is too expensive to continue!
So, you might ask, why should I care about Human Centered Leadership?
The value of the Human Centered Leadership approach is two-fold. First, as we noted in our last post, one of the most attractive qualities of being a Human Centered Leader is the focus on “being human”…. which means, being our best self, being genuine, being authentic, being unique—a healthy version of “YOU.” Unlike other leadership approaches which require us in the heat of the moment of chaos, high velocity change, or conflict to try and remember “What am I supposed to do and say?” Instead, based on our ability to just be a healthy version of our “best self” in those scenarios, a Human Centered Leader can constantly be who they are, demonstrate positive mindsets, share experiences, increase value in interpersonal touchpoints, and be collaborative with others. Being true to ourselves, allows us to appreciate ourselves and others as human beings with opinions, emotions, aspirations, and experiences.
Now, being human doesn’t mean we (or others) are free from faults, making mistakes, or being misunderstood. In contrast, being human means that we can embrace these imperfections as a chance to grow, develop, and improve. The results of accepting our imperfections and being compassionate with ourself can be liberating—for us and others. Being “YOU” is a sustainable asset. In fact, research has repeatedly indicated that people who like themselves and have a healthy sense of compassion for who they are enjoy better mental, physical, and relational health. Similarly, better holistic health enables us to truly appreciate and respect the value of others. As Mr. (Fred) Rogers reminded us…. “Being perfectly human means having imperfections….I like you just the way you are.”
Second, because we are able to focus on being the best of who we are, our true value as leaders comes through the co-creative approach to problem solving. As human centered leaders, we don’t have to be a subject matter expert of everything and know all of the answers to every thorny and wicked problem our team, firm, or organization faces. Instead, Human Centered Leadership means partnering with others to tackle tough challenges and thorny/wicked problems by involving the human perspective in all steps of the solution-generating process. Being a “truly” human-centered leader extends far beyond learning about what people “want”….we also must learn about what people “need” in solving problems and doing things that matter. Need-finding is an imperative…it’s not optional.
In our next post on Human Centered Leadership, we will explore what it means to be a “Centered” leader. We are interested in your thoughts about Human Centered Leadership. Please share! We are eager to learn from you.