5 Ways To Become A More Human Leader

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Blogpost by Bejan Douraghy.  He is the founder of Artisan Talent, an award-winning staffing agency matching digital, creative, and marketing talent with success since 1988. Artisan places talent nationwide and has offices in Chicago, New York City, Indianapolis, and Denver.

I’m committed to helping leaders learn how to motivate their teams through compassion, kindness, and relationship building. Through the years, I’ve drawn from my own education, colleagues in groups like EO and Vistage, and many different experiences and instincts to create my approach to leadership.

Here’s a list of actions that have helped me become a more human leader — I hope they inspire you along your own journey on becoming a better team leader.

  • Create Team Rituals

At my company, I love to start the day by going around with a cup of coffee and saying hello to everyone. I look forward to this little morning ritual because it sets the tone for the day. Plus, it’s fascinating to see how my behavior has sparked others to make stronger connections with the people around them. It never hurts to say hello to your coworkers before you dive into that inbox or task list. Sometimes, it’s the simple things that can bring a team closer together.

If you’re looking to create a team bond, there’s no right or wrong way to start. It could be playing an icebreaker game at the end of your daily huddle, bringing in lunch every other Friday, or taking votes to see who gets the oversized trophy that month. It doesn’t have to cost a lot. Just make it special and unique to your team.

  • Really Get to Really Know Your Team

I believe the human experience drives business. Building personal connections might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s often overlooked in the day-to-day. When it comes to my team, I like to visualize an “employee iceberg” — work-related stuff is just the tip.

Aim to get to know the rest of the iceberg, which could include your employees’ personal aspirations and dreams, family goals, or even problems they are experiencing. How do you get people to open up? Start by creating an environment where people feel comfortable dropping by each other’s desks. Create an “open-door policy” and be prepared to offer solutions, advice, or just an ear for people to talk to. I’ve found that getting to know your employees on a deeper level usually leads to more trust, respect, and ultimately, more collaboration.

  • Meet Face-to-Face

I will always feel passionate about meeting in person because, to me, there’s no better way to build a strong connection.

According to the Harvard Business Review, a face-to-face request is 34 times more successful than an email, and it’s mainly due to the benefits of human contact. As a leader, it’s up to you to initiate this type of connection wherever you can. If your team is remote, opt for a video conference over a phone call to help bring the meeting to life.

After all, people may forget what you say, but they’ll never forget how they felt when they met with you. Eye contact, facial expressions, and body language work together to develop first impressions and a lasting rapport. Without those indicators, things can be misunderstood or taken out of context. This is something that’s too often replaced by calls and emails.

  • Pitch In

With more companies adopting agile methodologies, today’s mindset is all about pitching in wherever, whenever, and however to keep things moving. That’s why it’s especially important for leaders to be able to wear many hats. As someone who started a national staffing company from the ground up, I’ve done it all — from stepping into sales calls to troubleshooting the printer.

Working alongside your team shows them that you’re all in it together. — “Ivory tower syndrome” is a real thing, and it happens when leaders are isolated from the work their team is doing. Don’t miss any opportunity to break free from your office and get involved in the day-to-day.

  • Be Decisive

A major part of being a leader is making decisions. Sometimes they need to happen fast and will have lasting effects on many aspects of your business. Think this doesn’t matter for your bottom line? According to Forbes, up to 95% of an organization’s financial performance is directly tied to decision effectiveness. Don’t let this make you too anxious though. Remember that you won’t always have the right answers, but it’s important to make educated decisions and stick to them. When you go back and forth, you’re actually making the decision to do nothing, and that doesn’t help anything.

A trick of the trade I love is to ask myself:

  • What will it be like 10 minutes from now
  • What will it feel like 10 years from now?

These questions will help you gain short-term and long-term perspective on the issue at hand.

  • Bonus Tip: Celebrate Everything

It’s easy to focus on big-picture achievements, but what about the day-to-day wins that lead up to them? I strongly believe in taking the time to celebrate the little wins. Recognize people and their milestones along the way. Whether it’s a promotion, birthday, or completed project, there’s always a reason to celebrate if you’re willing to look for the positives. And it doesn’t have to cost anything. It could be a round of applause, a silly animated GIF, or a feature on the company blog. Even the smallest gestures can be big motivators. Don’t underestimate the power of remaining positive and recognizing your team members.

Just remember, when it comes to unlocking the power of human leadership, the possibilities are endless — and they’re always evolving.