Gary Burnison is CEO of Korn Ferry and the author of Leadership U: Accelerating Through the Crisis Curve.
When your morning commute is from your bedroom to the kitchen table, there’s no separating home from work. It’s hard not to bring your personal life into the office when it’s on Zoom. And it’s impossible to shut your emotions out during your work time when you’re also stealing precious minutes to manage your family, health and other personal priorities.
This is as true for leaders as it is for anyone. Yet, until now, many leaders have believed they needed to split their personality, leaving their emotions at home and bringing only their rational, stoic selves to work. But this isn’t good for employees — or the bottom line.
When leaders become radically human —showing their authentic selves, being vulnerable and feeling empathy for others — that’s where connections happen. It allows employees to know that they truly matter, that what they do makes a difference. As employee engagement grows, so does productivity — and the organization’s success.
But what does it take to become a radically human leader? You can start with these 5 steps.
- Assess your strengths and weaknesses. Before you can become a radically human leader, you have to be radically human as a person. Take a long look in the mirror. Be humble about your strengths and always seek more opportunities to grow.
- Consider your approach to failure. Do you reward failure, seeing it as the only way to learn? Moving forward, if people are afraid to fail-if there are punishments or if rewards are withheld because of failure-then people won’t feel empowered to take chances. Without those risks, there will be no innovation.
- Model the behavior you want to see. Whether consciously or unconsciously, your team will take their cues from leaders on how to behave at work. When you are empathic and vulnerable, others will feel comfortable doing the same.
- Be intentional about creating space for connection. Build time into your schedule just for talking to employees. Every time you start a Zoom or a phone call, don’t just launch into the business at hand; spend a few minutes building a connection, as if you were in person.
- Always show up. It’s sometimes hard to say know what to say when others are in crisis. But you don’t need to have all the answers to offer support. Regardless of whether your team is facing personal losses or a professional setback, offer a listening ear and make sure they know you care. Simply being heard comforts employees and reassures them that they aren’t alone.
Every day is a journey. Along the way, you can take strides toward becoming a more empathic, effective and radically human leader.