Our LinkedIn feed, newsletters and strategy meetings are oversaturated with targets: increase employee engagement by X%, improve retention rate by Y%, advance DEI efforts and women representation by Z%. We understand that the Great Reshuffle calls for resolute action and that we can’t improve what we don’t measure. In a data-driven world, numbers matter. We also understand the complexities you face in leading global companies, shaped by a remote workforce, during these turbulent times.
Yet the truth is that we’re experiencing a crisis of trust and authentic leadership. The last thing we need is hearing another data-heavy presentation reminding us we’re just another FTE in the companies’ statistics. We can’t solve this crisis using the same thinking that got us here. Trust is built on logic and competence. But it’s also built on empathy and kindness. People want to be seen, heard, included, mentored, guided – each and every one. One by one. Not in bulk. Off-the-shelf leadership is not the answer.
Hence, before you share your engagement/retention/DEI targets, please ensure the full leadership structure is on board and able to deliver. Before you approach your coworkers as employees, approach them as humans. Before you check-in with us, check-in with yourself – what’s your purpose and what’s the legacy you work towards? People can distinguish between a leader who just follows the script (even if with the best intentions) and one who really cares. And people will trust you if they know their own success is at the top of your agenda.
True leadership is not easy; it seems that we now expect from leaders what a whole ‘village’ used to offer – guidance, mentoring, empowerment, compassion, support for a healthy work-life balance etc. But there’s no way around it. The leader of the future is a humanistic one and leads with wisdom, empathy, kindness and compassion. The leadership of the future is about reconnecting with one human at a time, daring to be seen and daring to see each individual as a masterpiece in progress – worthy of your time and support.
So next time you reflect on leading others and setting your target, put a face on it. How engaged is Jane? How included does John feel? When it’s the last time you discussed with Kate about her career growth?