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 October 14, 2021   By Living As A Leader


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How Leaders Can Foster Independence

Work is undergoing its biggest transformation in decades –– and as a result people are re-evaluating what they want out of their careers.

There are a variety of reasons for these systemic changes, including more demand for work-life balance or increased wages. But there can also be something more fundamental –– when workers just want to be seen as people. In our work we have helped leaders see how they can truly recognize their teams and boost morale by seeing the full humanity of their teams. Here is how to do that in everyday work life.

Realize it isn't about you

When we work with  leaders, we tell them that as soon as they accepted the role as leaders, they willingly signed up and acknowledged that moving forward will not be about them. This means taking the time to learn the role and responsibilities as a leader, which includes having a plan for intentional, or designed leadership, as discussed earlier. It is now about being able to put your employees, or your team, first. It is about being able to put your own work aside when necessary to talk with an employee, solve a problem or help.

Make the effort to understand motivations

It takes time and effort to get at the true motivations of others. But like peeling an onion, there are always more layers than what you see on the surface. This skill of peeling away the outer shell to get underneath can be learned and practiced. We practice this skill regularly  with our clients. We pair together two concepts we refer to as “Who’s holding the ball?” and “Peel the onion.” Put the ball in their court and let them take control, let them explain. Then peel back the layers, one by one, through effective questioning. Remember to let them continue to hold the ball, do most of the talking.   

Catch workers doing something right

Finally, when leaders adopt this other-centered mindset, they can also see the hard work employees put in every day. Even in the worst of circumstances, leaders can find the positives if they are present and paying attention. Over time, employees will stop looking over their shoulders, afraid of a rebuke from a boss. Instead, they will welcome the attention of seeing a job well done. This exercise also trains leaders to see their people as people, not just as corrections that need to be made.

Seeing the full humanity in others takes constant effort, and we remind ourselves, as well, that we need to practice this. Because we never know the full extent of what’s below the surface until we make an effort to understand.


At Living As A Leader, we offer a Leadership Development Series designed to produce leaders that can positively shape the cultural environment, reduce turnover and achieve crucial business initiatives. We do this by providing training, coaching and consulting with a focus on pragmatic communication tools for leaders at all levels of your organization.

For more information, contact Steph Collins at

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