Some critics and naysayers take a hard line on human-centered workplaces that focus on people. It's a counter-cultural trend, so you'll hear incorrect interpretations that it's too soft.

You'll also hear misconceptions that leaders at these organizations give up their power and authority too easily, allowing employees to walk all over them.

What I say in response is this: Who are you promoting into leadership roles, Eeyore from Winnie-the-Pooh?

The digital age has produced a new breed of job candidates who approach opportunities as consumers would when purchasing a product or service--through reviews and online research.

As this approach is fast becoming the norm, choosing a new place to work will increasingly be influenced by factors such as culture, reputation, how employees are valued, and whether work has meaning, purpose, and connection to a mission they believe in. This has plenty to do with leadership.

That's when entrepreneurs that adopt or adapt leadership models such as Level 5 Leadership, servant leadership, authentic leadership, and the like make a tremendous difference. If I'm in a room full of them, they would all agree with me that they are no pushovers; they demand excellence and hold people accountable for high performance. They just do it differently.

Lets look at some key differences between a typical traditional leadership structure and that of a human-centered leadership approach. Both will lead to profit. But only one will lead to profit through discretionary effort and human development that improves the lives of people. This is the one you want to lead in 2017 and beyond.

Class is in session.

Features of Traditional Leadership

While this is still the prevalent management style, and it does lead to bottom-line success and results, it's the least favored among Millennials, who are now the largest working demographic.

Business Metaphor: The organization is a machine, employees are the cogs in the machine used to produce profit for shareholders and the people at the top. Sounds like we're in the industrial age here, but think call centers, manufacturing, insurance, and food services.

Authority: It's quite clear, commands come from top down to "worker bees" who take orders and produce results. People don't have much say, if any.

People: You'll find that they are used as instruments of production. Clock in, clock out.

Leadership Style: Often detached and distant. You may not even see or know who the leaders are because they never come out of their cave; it's often "invisible leadership."

Supervisory Approach: As supervisors, they are taught to systematically dictate, control, and punish.

Service Orientation: It's self-serving. The question they ask is, "What can this person I just hired do for me, my department, and the company?"

Features of Human-Centered Leadership

This is the model for leading in 2017 and beyond. People sometimes do not understand this approach as the path to performance and results, but it's how companies like Google, Zappos, Pandora, Glassdoor, and Menlo Innovations operate. People-centric approaches to leadership offer a far more daring and difficult path than people think, and it works. The features:

Business Metaphor: It's a decentralized, organic structure of open and authentic relationships.

Authority: Work cultures thrive through collaboration and participation by the whole group.

People: They tap into people as their greatest assets, as fellow business owners whose input, feedback, and creativity are valued.

Leadership Style: The leader acts more like an orchestra conductor--everyone is playing in harmony. They are connected and present, very engaged in the work of those around them. They walk their four corners.

Supervisory Approach: Listening to all sides, facilitating, coaching, encouraging.

Service Orientation: It's other-serving. The question they ask is, "What can I do to help you fulfill your personal goals and align them with our organizational goals so we all succeed?"

Published on: Mar 2, 2017