In a data-driven economy, we have many indicators of performance that help us navigate our way through the business landscape. However, the numbers only tell one story, and leading with humanity can help you build a more robust path forward.
Leading with data vs leading with humanity
As a leader it can be easy to fall into the habit of focusing on the numbers – productivity, efficiency and the bottom line. After all, data is a black and white indicator of what’s working for your business, and what isn’t – especially when times are hard.
The numbers are readily available too – everything from revenue to life time value to employee sentiment is available at a click of a button. The problem is that while these numbers help leaders make decisions about their business, they miss one crucial element – the human factor, and how a clear insight on what is important to people can help you make your company stand out.
Yes, great leadership is about solid business acumen and making the right decisions for your company. But leaders should also be actively trying to understand the humans involved, customers, employees, communities, to add dimension to the numbers and the impact of their data-driven decisions.
Human-aware leadership for better decisions
By understanding the people involved, leaders can get a better understanding of how your company fits into their lives. For example, sales data may show you that wardrobe sales are up, however understanding the human shows that buying good quality furniture from sustainable wood is at the top of your customers’ mind. One indicator may lead you to ramp up production from cheaper, less sustainable sources, and then leave you wondering why your sales have suddenly dropped off, whereas the other could open up a market that you hadn’t previously considered.
Dominique Jaurola shares 3 tips to making better, human-centered decisions, both personally and professionally.
Human-aware leadership for better understanding
Leading with humanity also requires a degree of empathy. Understanding the problems of the people who you impact can help you to find solutions that are meaningful.
One story that really hits the nail on the head is that of Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, who made headlines by giving everyone in his company a minimum wage of $70,000. After hearing first hand from employees who were struggling financially (and were somewhat disgruntled), then crunching the numbers, he realised that he could make a difference in their lives.
The really amazing thing here is that not only did this increase employee satisfaction amongst more junior employees who got a pay increase, but more senior people were happy to take pay cuts to work for Gravity because it was putting its people first.
Leading with humanity and better motivation
Here’s the thing: leading with humanity leads to better motivation. We can see this in the case of Gravity Payments and their customers. Communities are motivated to engage more with brands that show their humanity, customers are motivated to do business with companies that show their human side, and will in some cases, be happy to pay a premium to do so.
Humanness is a powerful motivator for those who your company touches, but as a leader, how can you go about fostering understanding? My advice to you is this: fuel your curiosity.
- Go out of your way to understand different perspectives on every aspect of your business.
- Consider every perspective, no matter how insignificant it may seem – some of the brightest gems come from the most unexpected places.
- Don’t rely on the numbers alone – find ways to discover that much needed depth.
Good leaders are the ones who can steer their ship in the right direction. Great leaders are the ones who take the time to learn from everyone who is coming along for the journey.