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5 Characteristics of Human-Centered Leaders

Mar 22, 2023

As the world continues to move at a faster pace, and our workplace challenges become more complex, and our sphere of concern gets larger and more global, the nature of leadership is also changing.

Human-centered leadership is harder than ever, yet more important than ever. Here are some of its characteristics.  You might want to assess your own leadership against these important mindsets.

Human-centered leaders:

  1. Put people first. This may sound simple, but it’s not always easy. Often, decisions require setting priorities among equally compelling choices – people vs. profit is a common one. I believe that when you do a good job taking care of your people, your people take care of your customers, and your customers take care of your business. If you’re in a large organization, taking care of your people can be a challenge, with all the elements outside your control. However, letting people know that they are important, and that you value and appreciate them, can go a long way toward compensating what is beyond your power or influence.
  2. Demonstrate a willingness to learn. Human-center leaders ask challenging questions and really listen to the answers. They take what they hear into consideration in making decisions.  They value input from a variety of sources and different perspectives, and they realize they don’t have all the answers. These leaders are confident in their “not-knowing,” and interested in what others can teach them.
  3. Establish a sense of belonging. Human-centered leaders help people to feel welcome and included. They invite participation, and recognize the importance of group dynamics, social interaction, and building relationships. They understand that we all want to be seen, heard, and understood, and they work to make sure all people have a voice. They remove barriers that prevent people from showing up as their best selves.
  4. Create psychological safety. Human-center leaders make it safe for people to take risks, make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes. They make it safe to ask questions, to admit you don’t know how to do something, and to ask for help. They understand the important of “not shooting the messenger” when bad news is shared with them. They make it comfortable for people with different backgrounds and experiences to contribute their ideas and comments. They solicit input and feedback from a variety of sources.
  5. Value differences. Human-centered leaders notice things. They are aware of the differences that exist in the workplace among people with different gender identification, race or cultural background, education levels, and generations. They recognize and appreciate that each of us is unique. And they tap into these different perspectives to add texture and dimension when making decisions. They notice whether or not people are participating, and they seek out quieter voices, recognizing that these individuals may be more thoughtful and reflective.

How does your leadership measure up against these characteristics? Where do you need to focus more attention? And what would you add to the list?



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