Working with organizational leaders, front line managers and employees, I often see a huge disconnect between what employees expect from their leaders and what leaders do. A significant part of this disconnect is the fact that many leaders need to act more human with their teams.

This list of the 6 things leaders can do to become more human is not exhaustive. If you are reading this, you probably have more insight to add to the conversation. Please do add your voice to the conversation by Commenting below.

 1.  Humble Yourself

As leaders, we can all have a tendency to get a little stuffy once in a while. Consequently, appearing superior to the team we support does nothing but put distance between us, the frontline and the customer. Do you ever struggle with being more human and approachable?

Tip: Try to maintain heightened awareness of your presence and whether you are bringing people toward you or wedging your role in the middle. When you are more purposeful in your humility and settling yourself up to be with your people, they will feel more connected to you and the organization.

The result?

More connectedness means that they will be more willing to put forth extra effort, which can pay off in increased profits and increased retention. Can you think of a specific time when you humbled yourself? What did you do specifically?

 2.  Show them More of You

Many leaders are very nervous when they hear that they need to become more vulnerable to their team.

Why does this usually become an issue? It can become a barrier to team and organizational greatness when leaders pretend that everything is golden. Your team is very attuned to your mood swings (no matter how much you hide it). While you don’t have to reveal every piece of dirty laundry, your team should see some of the good and bad. This is when they measure you as a leader.

How do you show up?

How do you handle setbacks?

Tip: By showing your team more of you, you teach and inspire them. If you are someone who gets almost nauseous having to reveal anything but perfection to your team, put together a 30-day action plan. This way, you can focus on ways to connect with them in little ways every day instead of taking huge steps.

For further reading on becoming a more vulnerable leader, Click here.

 3.  Say Hello and Goodbye

I have to say this one seems to get the most whispers and negative comments with the frontline.

This may seem very obvious, but walking past frontline employees without saying hello or goodbye is a major mistake. Failing to do this one basic thing is one of the biggest reasons why employees feel disconnected from organizational leadership. This would also make them wonder whether you know their name or even care.

I once worked with a manager who knew that he was leaving his team’s potential on the table for his lack of recognizing them in the most basic way. He noticed that his unit’s performance was much lower than his colleagues. When he took ownership in deeper connection with team, he began to see the changes in them and in their numbers.

Tip: Start tracking every day that you say hello to just one of your team members, then make sure to start and greet others too. You will make them feel like valuable members of the team and not just a number.

Can you think of other things that leaders to that drive the front line nuts?

 4.  Trust Them

I write a lot about employee empowerment. I realize that it is easier to empower certain employees over others, but I have seen too many organizations live and die by rules, hierarchy and process. While process is one of the cornerstones of how I help move organizations toward transformation, process takes a parallel seat to the employee who is willing to take a smart risk against process to meet a customer’s need.

Leaders often fail to realize that they hired certain talent to get the most passion and experience possible in one area. If you hired right, then let your people shine by exhibiting all that they are for the organization’s benefit.

Tip: Let go just a little. If you want more tips on employee empowerment, Click here.

 5.  Give Some Away

I get it.

You have a job to do and want to be moving forward and, most likely, upward. Take some time to think about how you can give away some of your power, authority, influence to key members of your team.

I am not saying that you let everyone run rampant with no sense of who owns what. Rather, let your team have a chance to lead even if it puts you in the backseat.

When employees feel empowered to do good work and grow in and around their current role, you will hold their attention longer. Never assume that where they are in their current role is where they want to end up.

Tip: Ask your team members about their goals over the next five years. Ask them what you can do to help them achieve those goals.

If you would like to learn about what Zappos is doing in this area, read my interview with a Zappos leader here.

 6.  Include Them

Not in all cases, but in many cases, employees feel stifled because change happens all around them and they are not involved in, nor are they aware of how they are connected to it. This is a key employee empowerment concept.

Leaders may feel that they do not “need” to tell their team (or organization) about every initiative before it becomes real. While I agree that too much can just be too much, it is very important to have a communication strategy around significant organizational or departmental changes. Have you ever been on the tail end of a organizational change and you were the last to find out? Then, you are expected to embrace it wholeheartedly?

How did that make you feel?

Tip: Form some type of front line employee committee to serve as an advisory function for you. They can give you great insights into how to move forward with the initiative and can enlist more players to communicate and excite others.


Thank you for reading this article. I hope that, at least, one of these points speaks to you and drives you to become more human. If you found value in the post, please do Like it and Share it. As always, I would enjoy hearing your thoughts.

Enjoy becoming more Human!