A Gartner study finds that only 29% of 3400 surveyed employees report that their leaders exhibit human leadership.
Human leadership are important because organisations that are able to develop more human leaders will see less turnover, higher engagement scores and better well-being, said Caitlin Duffy, director of research in the Gartner HR practice.
“Although these qualities may have been important for good leadership in the past, today they are non-negotiable – particularly to compete in today’s new talent landscape,” she advised.
According to the advisory firm, another study it did earlier in the year indicated that 90% of the 230 HR leaders surveyed believe that leaders must focus on the human aspects of leadership in order to succeed in today’s work environment.
The three components of human leadership
Gartner said it has identified the following three components that make up human leadership.
Authentic: Act with purpose and enable true self-expression, for both themselves and their teams.
Empathetic: Show genuine care, respect and concern for employees’ well-being.
Adaptive: Enable flexibility and support that fits team members’ unique needs.
- There is a 37-percentage point increase in the number of employees reporting high engagement who report to a human leader versus employees who do not consider their leader to be a human leader.
- This increase is significant: highly engaged employees improve their team’s performance by up to 27%.
- 57% of HR leaders believe that making the business case for human leadership is a high-priority investment for the next year.
However, most business leaders don’t trust data and analysis provided by HR, Gartner pointed out.
To gain leaders’ commitment to a more human leadership approach, HR should leverage trusted sources – peers and employees themselves – to make the business case to leaders, Gartner said.
For example, HR can convene a dynamic group of impactful, well-respected leaders who believe in – and act on – human leadership, the firm added.
These progressive leaders can work to set new leadership expectations for the organisation that are both current and relevant to the realities of leaders’ roles, while providing ongoing support, Gartner advised.
Teach leaders to exhibit positive behaviours despite fear
Gartner’s March 2022 leader survey found that nearly half of business leaders feel their actions as a leader are more scrutinised compared to three years ago.
Nearly one-third of business leaders who are ineffective at human leadership worry mishandling sensitive issues could damage their reputation, the firm said.
“HR typically provides leaders with development and training on navigating sensitive situations and creating a psychologically safe environment, but these efforts are missing the mark,” said Jérôme Mackowiak, director of advisory in the Gartner HR practice. “In today's environment, discomfort is inevitable as leaders address topics that can never be made comfortable or safe.”
Rather than trying to eliminate fear, HR needs to give leaders the courage to act despite their fear by teaching them how to exhibit positive behaviours when they are afraid, he advised.
As part of this, HR needs to help leaders develop deep self-awareness to understand how their fears impact them and enable them to take ownership of their behaviour, he added.
Lastly, leaders need more support for high-risk situations, such as “ask-me-anything” sessions with employees, Gartner said.