Be Human, Lead Human: The Critical Questions

The Jennifer Nash Newsletter

Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day! I hope you had a great day celebrating love in all its forms!

In my last newsletter, I shared the backstory of my labor of love, Be Human, Lead Human: How to Connect People and Performance. I mentioned that I created this book to answer some of the most commonly-asked questions I get from clients. This week, I want to dive into some of those questions.

#1. How can I improve performance?

The vast majority of U.S. workers lack faith in their leaders’ ability to lead them forward, according to an MIT and Cognizant study cited in The New Leadership Playbook for the Digital Age articleOnly 12% of the study’s respondents strongly agreed that their leaders had the right mindset and beliefs to advance the business.

Imagine how your team’s performance would look if only 12% of your employees were completely confident in your direction.

Why such a dismally low number? Short answer: the prevalence of outdated leadership models. One of the reasons I wrote Be Human, Lead Human is to share a new leadership paradigm focused on accelerating performance. So many of the “tried-and-true” methods leaders emulate when they enter their roles no longer apply to the modern workplace—and many leaders don’t even realize it! 

I want to help leaders like you bridge that gap between employees and leadership so that in the future, more than 12% of your employees strongly agree that you are fully equipped and capable of leading them forward. 

So how do you improve performance? By updating your leadership model! Which is exactly what Be Human, Lead Human teaches you how to do.

#2. How am I perceived as a leader?

Your effectiveness is not just measured by the organization’s bottom-line performance under your leadership. Rather, it’s just one component of how you can assess your leadership performance. Ultimately, perception is what determines the mobility and success of a leader—and the way you perceive yourself may not always align with how your stakeholders perceive you (don’t panic, this can apply positively and negatively).

This is important because being perceived as an ineffective leader increases organizational turnover costs—to the tune of $630 billion in 2019, according to the Work Institute.

Be Human, Lead Human teaches you how to gain a deep understanding of the way your leadership is perceived. First you’ll learn what criteria to consider and complete a quantitative self-assessment to evaluate your skills. Then, you’ll learn how to gather honest feedback from the people whose lives you touch at work, at home, and in your community. Once you have that, you can compare and contrast the data—and, more importantly, create an action plan to drive sustainable behavior change.

I want to support leaders like you in expanding your leader toolkit so you’re confident you’re not contributing to attrition costs (or fix it if you have been!).

So how can you understand others’ perceptions of your leadership? By using nine principles and practices introduced in Be Human, Lead Human.

#3. How do I know if I’m a good leader?

This may seem similar to #2 on the surface, but while perception is inherently subjective in nature, this question refers to being an objectively good leader. What are the objective measurements of your core competencies as a leader of people? Answering that starts with leading yourself.

Human Leadership is focused on what matters most: people. And that includes you! How have you been leading your life? Are you happy with the results? How can you effectively lead others if you’re not satisfied with the way you lead yourself? Research shows that leaders who reflect perform 23% higher than those who don’t.

Be Human, Lead Human will teach you how to tune into and reflect on your internal GPS—something the workplace has conditioned us to ignore for far too long. It will help you establish your own values, goals, and purpose for your life and for becoming a Human Leader.

So how do you know if you’re a good leader? By looking at how you’re leading yourself and then applying it to your performance in your organization (and of course gathering feedback as mentioned in #2). Be Human, Lead Human is designed to help you do all of this.

#4. How do I increase retention?

People don’t quit jobs; they quit bosses. So the short answer to retaining talented humans is to become a boss people don’t want to quit! It’s that easy, and that hard.

Be Human, Lead Human doesn’t stop at showing you what doesn’t work. I’ve spent years conducting research to define the characteristics of average versus outstanding leaders. I’ve got the data, the anecdotes, and the experience to objectively define exactly what type of leadership model gets the best results from today’s workforce. In the chapters teaching you my operating model for Human Leadership, I highlight common ineffective behaviors and offer alternatives to help you become an effective Human Leader.

So how do you hold on to your talented humans? By learning what outstanding leaders look like and elevating your leadership skills to emulate them. 

#5. Why isn’t my return-to-work strategy working?

Collaboration is key to a successful organization. That’s why many leaders are citing the need for “collaboration” as the reason for requiring people to return to the office now that the worst of COVID is behind us.

However, the problem is that proximity ≠ collaboration. If it did, we wouldn’t have so much data showing productivity went up during the work-from-home period for most industries. HR and workplace benefits consulting firm Mercer found that 94% of employers assessed company productivity the same or higher during the pandemic.

It is true that collaboration (and the sense of connection that comes with it) is lacking. Research published in the Journal of Organizational Effectiveness shows that loneliness costs employers more than $154B annually in lost productivity. Many people are feeling isolated in the wake of the work-from-home and quarantine procedures necessitated by the pandemic. 

But the answer isn’t to mandate a return to the office and pretend that all of the autonomy and agency gained during the last three years didn’t happen. The solution is to create relational connection through the work itself (and yes, this is possible even with people working remotely!).

Be Human, Lead Human shares an effective relational framework. It illustrates what hinders relationship building, how to remove those barriers, and how to stop treating work relationships as an extracurricular and start framing them as a critical component of performance. 

So why isn’t your return-to-work strategy working? Because it’s addressing a symptom of the problem, rather than the root cause. The question you should be asking is, “How do I improve teamwork?” And you do that by executing the Human Leadership model, which helps people work together to achieve a shared mission—which is the whole point of work!

Pre-order Be Human, Lead Human to answer your questions and become a Human Leader!

Every day I work with leaders to help them assess and measure their current leadership skills, identify their goals, and expand their toolkit. I help them become Human Leaders to elevate their skills, disrupt the status quo, and connect people and performance so that their teams can produce better results than they’ve ever seen. And I can help you do it, too.

The best place to start is to join the information list at BeHumanLead so you’ll be the first to know when pre-order is available. And when you get your copy in May, the real work begins!

I’ve got lots more to share regarding Be Human, Lead Human. If you want to know more about what defines outstanding leadership and how to become a Human Leader, be sure to subscribe to this bi-weekly newsletter!

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