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How do we Build Businesses for Humans?

Red and black heart drawn on graph paper

If you would ask my team what I’ve been chewing on for quite some time, I think they would all say the same thing: How do we build businesses built for humans? What are the rules of work that can be broken? 

This quest started long before COVID, but has been amplified by how I’ve seen companies and leaders respond in the pandemic, and consequently, how the humans they lead feel lost and uncertain. You see, I started my own business to rid the world of terrible leaders, but I also want to show that you can scale a business without losing the humanity of it along the way. I want to prove that you can be successful and work differently. And so, I find myself chronically curious to seek out other business owners and leaders who are doing things differently.

Business as we know it in present day has largely been created to serve a capitalist approach. And current management styles harken back to the days of the industrial and manufacturing era. Times are different. People are different. And we are working with humans…not machines.

There are a few people I’ve discovered on this same path. First, Claude Silver, the Chief Heart Officer for VaynerMedia. Her approach on leading with love really resonated with me:

When we’re leading with love, we are able to embrace our own emotions, especially our vulnerabilities, and be self-aware enough to acknowledge our warts, failures, share our strengths, challenges etc… and offer up ways that these have allowed us to learn and grow. When we are leading with love, we are building a culture where radical candor discussions can happen that build ever deeper connections between co-workers and teammates. Safety and trust are developed in cultures that embrace love and humanity. And when you lead with love you truly only want the best for others. I really mean it — only want the best for others.

Or Gary Hamel and his Heart of Innovation blog:

…empathy is the engine of innovation. That’s why I often worry about just how de-humanized our organizations have become. Listen to the speech of a typical CEO, or scroll through an employee-oriented website, and notice the words that keep cropping up—words like leadership, solution, advantage, focus, momentum, differentiation and superiority. There’s nothing wrong with these words, but they’re not the ones that inspire human hearts. And that’s a problem—because if you want to innovate, you need to be inspired, your colleagues need to be inspired, and ultimately, your customers need to be inspired.

Or this profound article, Are Our Management Theories Outdated, by Gianpiero Petriglieri:

We need a truly human management, one that makes room for our bodies and spirits alongside our intellect and skills. That cares for what work does and feels and means to us, not just for what we can do at work and how. A management that abjures the relentless pursuit of efficiency and alignment — and celebrates, or even just acknowledges the inconsistencies that make us human. A management that pursues existential growth as passionately as it pursues instrumental growth — that is, one that pursues the expansion of our consciousness alongside that of our powers. One where we can be fully human, with all our contradictions, in pluralistic institutions.

And now readers, I want to hear from you. What does a company built for humans truly look like? What rules need to be broken? What could be possible with a human-centered approach? I have a short survey with these three questions. I look forward to reading the beautiful ideas you share!

Take Survey!

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