Overview: A leader’s role is to actively engage the workforce, empower employees, and get them to assume psychological ownership of organizational goals. The key to engagement is to act with integrity and to listen. Treating workers as human beings requires leaders to be kind, empathic, and avoiding of judgment.
As humans, we’re all equal. We’re not alike, but we’re all born free. We deserve equal treatment regardless of race, religion, sex, political preferences, or social statuses.
In the context of business leadership, this equality may translate to all of us being seen as resources instead of individual human beings. Proponents of the industrial age leadership paradigm saw humans as resources and as the executors of a higher power’s will.
Leadership coaching realizes seeing employees as mere tools in forwarding the cause of organizations is the most grievous mistake leaders can make.
Intelligent leaders understand their role is to build meaningful relationships with business partners, managers, and employees. Executive coaching encourages leaders to treat employees as individuals and to try and cater to their individual needs.
Distant leaders sitting atop a rigid vertical hierarchy can only command fear, compliance, and lukewarm cooperation.
Leaders must engage employees, however. One can’t engage another person while treating him or her as a role rather than a human being.
The ultimate goal of a leader is to inspire employees to assume psychological ownership of their work and the outcomes it creates. To spark this level of cooperation, leaders must build human relationships with employees and make them feel they genuinely care about their well-being, ambitions, and career goals.
How can leaders ensure they treat everyone like human beings, and how can leadership coaching help?
As a general rule, leaders should understand that how they treat others is how they can expect others to treat them. Employees may not be in a position to return toxic behavior directly, but they can sabotage leaders’ efforts and eschew cooperation. Here are some principles leaders can observe to fine-tune their treatment of others.
Avoiding Judgment and Focusing on the Future
Leaders should not judge people by their pasts. Everyone grows and evolves. Who one was in the past may not be entirely relevant to what they can achieve in the future.
The leader’s job is to create an environment focused on coaching and provide the moral and material support employees need to succeed. Leaders should also strive to create alignment between the objectives of an organization and the individual goals of its employees.
Treating people with respect on this journey towards a better future ensures loyalty, empowerment, and engagement.
Treating People with Kindness
Everyone we meet fights a battle we don’t know and may not understand. Kindness is a universal currency that costs nothing to hand out and reaps outstanding dividends. It’s an investment leaders can’t afford not to make.
Intelligent leaders don’t only treat their best people with kindness; they bestow the gift of kindness upon everyone without expecting anything in return. Being kind to people who can’t return the favor is the epitome of intelligent leadership and humanity.
Listening Actively and Acting with Integrity
Active listening promotes meaningful relationships through genuine engagement. A leader who is curious about what employees say is a leader who truly listens. People like to know their leaders consider their opinions and concerns.
Curiosity acts as the foundation of relationships. Honesty and integrity keep them going. Those who act with integrity maintain relationships on high standards, fostering their meanings and reaping their rewards.
Leaders don’t engage in image-building at the expense of others. Only those who feel smaller than or inferior to their interlocutors feel the need to belittle others. The moment leaders try to prove their superiority by belittling others is when they give up the authority leadership has granted them.
Executive coaching helps leaders influence others. People, leaders or not, can only influence those with whom they engage. By seeing employees as mere resources, leaders deny themselves engagement opportunities, thus sabotaging their leadership.