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Human-centric leadership is NOT optional

Updated: Jan 27, 2020

Human-centric leadership is NOT optional.

It is NOT a luxury you can put off. It is NOT soft. It is NOT just some feel-good platitude.

It costs an average of $15,000 to replace an employee today––much more for a manager or executive.

Current studies show that nearly 70% of the workforce is disengaged.

One of the top reasons cited for these issues is that people believe their leaders don't care!

The research is absolutely clear. People perform at their best when––and only when––they know their leaders care, when their work has meaning and when they have the opportunity to learn, grow and develop.

To achieve this today’s leader must be emotionally intelligent, possess strong interpersonal skills and have a well developed and accurate sense of self-awareness. This is the type of leader we call “human-centric.”

This is the type of of leader we call THE SENSEI LEADER.

Don’t “motivate.” Inspire.

For too long managers have relied on technical and often external means to “motivate” people to higher levels of performance. That works––to some extent.

Motivation is about compelling an action to a particular expectation. Inspiration is about blowing expectations out of the water.

You can motivate people by bribing them with incentives and bonuses. You can motivate them by scaring and threatening them.

You Inspire them by your words and actions. And they don’t have to be grand.

Way too many people think that only the most charismatic, articulate and truly remarkable people can inspire. Every one of us can inspire.

Think about the people who really inspired you. Some will be famous orators and heroes. Most, however, will be people close to you who influenced your life every day along the way. They might have been teachers, coaches or scout leaders. They may have been your parents, grandparents or a favorite aunt or uncle. They may have been neighbors, a special boss or a co-worker.

They may even be people who just offered a few words of encouragement, advice or kindness––and you never met them again.

That is how you Inspire others––and you might not ever know it. Your actions, your words––your example. That’s how you inspire.

Don’t “delegate.” Empower.

Anyone can delegate. A lot of people do it when they don’t feel like doing the work themselves.

Empowering means making sure people have what they need to succeed. Of course this means material resources, but it also means encouragement, training and…


It means giving people the opportunity to embrace new challenges, even when––especially when there’s a chance of failure. It means creating and maintaining an environment where people are challenged and can discover their best selves.

Don’t “push.” Guide.

The manager pushes or drives. The leader Guides.

This involves teaching, coaching––mentoring. It means showing the way.

Most of all, it means sharing.

Whenever I’m asked to sum up leadership with one thought, I always fall back on this: “Leadership is sharing. A leader shares.”

The rest of the discussion is about exactly what we’re willing to share and how.

Effective leaders share…

  • Power

  • Authority

  • Knowledge

  • Experience

  • Wisdom

  • Respect

None of us achieve without others. Leadership is defined by this idea. More than anything else, a leader must bring people together to work for a common cause…

Transform ME into WE.

You can only do this through sharing. That’s how you get people with different talents, skills, abilities to work together to achieve their best. Even the most celebrated individual achievements are the result of the collective efforts of groups of people working toward a shared objective.

We may celebrate Neil Armstrong for taking the first step on the moon, but hundreds of thousands of people put him there.


No matter how compelling I try to make this argument, I am still frequently asked about the ROI. What, specifically, can you expect as a return for your investment in human-centric leadership?

If you’re looking for an explosive increase in your bottom line––forget it. Don’t worry about your people. Just do whatever it takes, no matter what the human expense to maximize your short-term profits. Many organizations have been successful with this strategy…

For awhile.

There is data that indicates that organizations that support and develop human-centric leaders outperform their less humanistic competitors by as much as 500 to 700%––over time. These organizations also have less churn, are usually market innovators and disruptors and survive inevitable downturns and adversity much better than those who have undervalued or ignored human-centric leadership.

The immediate returns, and those that translate into long-term success are these:

  • Respect

  • Trust

  • Loyalty

When you show people you care, rally them around a shared and meaningful purpose and give them the opportunity to learn, grow and achieve their best––you earn their respect, their trust and their loyalty.

Now before you think these are some kind of new-age, soft skill platitudes––think about this…

What can you possibly accomplish WITHOUT the respect, trust and loyalty of the people you serve?

If your people don’t respect you, trust you and stand by you––you are not getting their best. Your organization is not performing at its best. You are not doing your best job as a leader.

That’s what THE SENSEI LEADER MOVEMENT is all about. Our mission is simple, yet powerful: “To support and develop human-centric leaders––leaders who Inspire, Empower and Guide people to their very best.”

If you think that’s something you can do without––so be it, but I can tell you this with absolute certainty…

The age of command and control is dead. If you’re still operating in that mode as an individual leader or as an organization, you’re either in trouble now or heading for it.

I’ve already stated it clearly. People perform at their best when and only when they know their leaders care.

That’s why it is essential that you focus on developing human-centric leaders at all levels of your organization, from the front lines to the C-suite…

  • People who see what needs doing and they do it.

  • People who are innovative and creative.

  • People who are self-motivated, self-directed and want to go the extra mile.

  • People who through their daily words and actions Inspire, Empower and Guide others.

These are the people we call SENSEI LEADERS.

Photo of business people by Charles 🇵🇭 on Unsplash

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