Fostering Human Leadership in the Workplace

In last month’s blog, we discussed areas of importance that need to be addressed in 2023, so what better way to start the year than an in-depth look at human leadership and how to implement this in the workplace? HR research carried out by Gartner hails human-centric leadership as the next step in succeeding in a modern workplace; however, only 29% of employees surveyed believe that their leaders delivered this. The characteristics of a human leader are broken down into three components –

  • Authenticity – Act with purpose and enable true self-expression for both themselves and their teams
  • Empathy – show genuine care, respect and concern for employees’ well-being
  • Adaptivity – Enable flexibility and support that fits team members’ unique needs



Why human leadership?

Businesses often face recurring challenges such as high turnover, low staff engagement and lack of motivation among the workforce. Fostering human leadership gives you a practical tool belt to combat these challenges. 

Organisations that can develop more human leaders will find that these leaders’ teams have less turnover, higher engagement scores and better well-being” – Director of research at Gartner.

The aim is to blend solid logical leadership with heart-based attributes such as compassion, mindfulness, empathy and curiosity. Successful human leadership will – 

  • Inspire high levels of employee engagement
  • Encourage positive relationships throughout the organisation
  • Create more significant opportunities for collaboration 
  • Ensure a safe environment for all employees to be their authentic selves
  • Foster commitment, loyalty and a sense of community within the organisation

Here are seven strategies to consider implementing to foster human leadership in your workplace.



An impactful policy surrounding communication is the perfect starting point for nurturing healthy human relationships within your organisation. Communication is the key to effectively implementing a shared vision amongst your employees and efficiently presenting the company’s core values, culture and mission. Transparent communication with company-wide consistent messaging will build trust and reliable, robust relationships with your workforce. 


Be Fallible 

Encourage self-awareness within your management teams; even though they are leaders, this does not mean they have to know everything or make every decision without the support of others. Welcoming advice and making well-rounded decisions based on the expert skills of their team is a vital characteristic of a people-centric leader. No one can be infallible, and behaving in such a manner has a detrimental effect on the relationship with your employees. 


Listen to your employees

Active listening during conversations with employees is crucial; it enables trust and understanding between both parties and portrays an empathetic and supportive relationship with your staff. If employees feel they are being heard – and not just listened to – they will feel validated and foster greater loyalty and motivation. Refrain from monopolising meetings; communications from your management team should be conversations, giving your employees the space to communicate and share their views. 


Be inquisitive

Asking thoughtful questions when speaking with employees ensures you stay present during the communication and encourages a more open relationship with your employees. Welcome feedback from your team and readily take this onboard. Although your business environment may appear to run well and tensions are low, assuming everything is okay can be costly. In toxic situations, employees may be unwilling or reserved about discussing issues, so being consistently inquisitive will help keep you abreast of issues and concerns.


Give recognition

It is imperative to note the importance of recognising your employees’ efforts in the workplace to be an effective human leader. Giving praise and recognition is a base human need that we thrive on, and fulfilling this need builds self-esteem and confidence. Once your employees understand that you appreciate their hard work, they naturally crave to replicate this, boosting productivity. Happier employees will automatically be more engaged with increased motivation. Ensuring regular check-ins with your staff will help you to familiarise yourself with each employee’s preferences to determine what type of recognition will be attractive to them; what may be motivational for one employee may deter another completely. 



Prioritising teamwork is a surefire tactic to nurture human leadership and improve interdepartmental relations. When employees view their leader as an active part of their team rather than keeping their tasks separate with an air of superiority, they are more likely to work as an effective, connected unit. Fostering connection through collaboration will have lasting effects on company culture, and empowering your leaders to do this is a must.


Practise soft skills

As with honing any skill, practice makes perfect! Allow your future leaders to exercise their newfound skills, and ask them to consider how they can incorporate soft skills into their daily work routines. Becoming more involved in upcoming projects to nurture their teamwork and communication skills, encourage a mentorship programme or deliver soft skills training to those who report to them. 


Above all, human leaders are adaptable and continuously evolving, willing to take on new viewpoints, experiment with new ideas and learn new skills. As your business is never static, neither should your leaders be.