How leaders can break or make a human

With great power comes great responsibility

During a recent workshop I became quite passionate. A few comments were made in a less than favourable way about staff. I'm sure it was showboating, putting on a mask to hide their uncomfortableness about learning new skills . I only wish I recorded myself... It went something like this...


Remember the 'problem' that you are talking about are human beings, who are all trying to do their best to navigate this life, provide for themselves and their families and hopefully do good work. The way you talk about them feeds into your attitudes which feeds your behaviour


These people are not subordinates, mere resources, they are humans with hopes, dreams and aspirations. As their #manager you have a direct impact on how they feel every day. You have the ability to make someone or break them. Your words, actions and attitudes can build someone up, so they go home walking a little taller, smiling a little wider and in turn become a happier dad, mum, husband, wife of friend.. or you can knock them down.. so they can go home sad, stressed, angry or devalued.


And the knock on effect on feeling like that in the home.. It's toxic.


As managers and #leaders you have great power over other people's lives, and so you have a responsibility to make it a positive one

Problem 1:

When we dehumanise our people we feel different from them - apart from them. To name them "the staff", "the help" or even "them" means that you see your team as separate from you. This then informs the way you think about them, treat them or communicate with them. I hear so many people say that they feel just like a payroll number and that they simply don't matter. Well, it's hard to convince them otherwise.

The Solution:

Be human. The moment you forget that the people you work with are human then you should either move on or change your attitude. A team is a group of people coming together to solve a problem or achieve a goal. No one person on the team is more valuable or invaluable than another. When one person leaves, the whole team is impacted, so each person is valued. Now you get that, remember that each human has their own story, motivations, experience and uniqueness. By connecting with them, asking them questions, sharing a little bit of you, you will begin to see the human before you and that's where teamwork begins and ends.

Problem 2:

It is my job to get them to do things that they don't want to do so I have to be detached. OK to start of with, if you think that is your job them no wonder you have a group of people who don't want to work for you. If you think your job is to manage people then you have the wrong thinking. Managing people feels like fear, force, coercion or direction. If you think you need to detach to do this, then it's probably because you know this isn't the way you want to treat people.

The Solution:

Reframe what your job is. Your job is to manage work and lead people. The role of a manager is to make a plan, organise the tasks, resources, skills and time to achieve the goal and plan. Then you delegate the work to people by engaging and empowering them. Next you monitor, follow up and check in, before identifying development areas in the plan. 


From a human point of view this means creating a compelling vision so that people feel excited and self motivated to deliver. It means involving them in the organising so they can offer their ideas and best solutions. It looks like a two way discussion about what needs to be done, by when and by who, with clarity and ownership. It looks like agreeing how to monitor and check-in progress, how to feedback and give praise. It looks like developing your team and yourself to want more, be more and do more, so you lead towards success.

Liseten to the LeaderX podcast so you can have the confidence to be a more human leader.


The leaderX book is released on amazon and kindle from 26th March 2020.

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