Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Think of the famous leaders who have made a fortune of late.

I'll start you with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.

Have they inspired a generation of young entrepreneurs to follow their path and create a whole new generation of beloved leaders?

Or have they shown themselves to be painfully myopic and startlingly untrustworthy?

Or perhaps both are true.

I only ask because of new research performed by the University of Exeter in the UK.

The researchers looked at 130 independent studies in order to see which theory of fine leadership might best contribute to employee productivity.

The conclusion? An intuitive one, perhaps, but one that so many of today's leaders simply fail to grasp.

As lead author Dr Allan Lee put it: 

Our work shows that, as we expected, a 'servant leader' style of management which is ethical, trustworthy and has a real interest in the wellbeing and development of staff brings about real positives within the workplace.

The most recent generation of leaders has often given the impression of being, well, the opposite of that.

A Lord of the Flies, Sink Or Float, I'm The CEO And You'd Better Get That -- I paraphrase for politeness -- mentality seems to have swept all before it.

They don't care if they're trusted. They care only if they win. Or, rather, make a lot of money for themselves and a few accolytes.

Yet research clearly shows that, despite the tech world's attempts to turn humans into disposable machines, most basic human tenets of productivity still hold.

If you make your employees feel you genuinely care about them and if you don't behave like a duplicitous egomaniac, your employees are more likely to trust you and therefore to be productive, creative and generally feel like your company is worth working for.

One problem, of course, is that many of today's world leaders -- and not just in business -- are empathy-averse.

The draconian, the maniacally aggressive, the threatening and the uncaring seem to dominate the more ephemeral, slightly frightening, touchy-feely aspects.

Perhaps one day human workers will be entirely unnecessary.

In the meantime, it's still best to treat them as if they're human, rather than as costs.

You might even enjoy your own life more, dear leader.

Published on: May 8, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.