My first book, now out of print (Believe in Yourself, A Practical Guide in Leading Yourself and Others, 1991), was my first attempt at putting my voice out in the world in written form. I wasn’t even sure anyone would ever read it. But I wrote it as self-improvement, and it felt good. As a result, my confidence increased, as did my belief in myself. This first book led to another eight books in various languages and formats. I was still unsure who would read my ideas, but writing them anyway felt good. In high school (a while ago :), I was the cross country champion in San Francisco in my senior year, never losing one race. When I stood at the start of each race, I would visualize the entire race and what I would do without regard to who I was racing against.

It was a skill and belief in myself that continued throughout my life. But a great coach worked with me daily on what to do, building confidence.

But you don’t have to write a book or win a race to believe in yourself.

You can make a suggestion at work, help a friend, decide to go on vacation, ask a person out on a date :), or give a co-worker some advice. These examples all build confidence in yourself. When you believe in yourself and your ideas, others believe in you, too. Self-confidence will affect your parent, friend, spouse, co-worker, or leader role.

Humanistic leaders believe in themselves through trial and error, hard work, and determination.

The most significant mistake leaders make

From my observations, leaders’ biggest mistake is failure to listen to others. This listening could be customers, peers, or, most essentially, those doing the work. As a result, leaders can be distracted by their ideas and, in many cases, their egos.

Before age 30, it is vital to build ego, as this builds social identity and self-esteem. So, many leaders under 30 make mistakes, which is normal and a learning experience. But after age 30, it is essential to move ego aside, be humble, and be willing to listen to others. When I was leading teams, I used to enjoy having what I called listening meetings. I would sit down with teams and individuals and ask them specific operational questions and what they thought we should do.

I always thanked them for their suggestions and said I would incorporate them.

Reflecting on those listening sessions, I realize they forced me to be humble and to listen more.

Have companies started to go back to old ways of managing people?

Leaders should avoid going back to old behavior.

I have recently observed a trend for some companies and their leaders to go back to their pre-pandemic ways of managing people.

The pandemic forced many companies to become more people-friendly, compromise on flexible scheduling, remote work, and health testing at work, and be more people-centered and less punitive and controlling. At the time, this was the right thing to do and part of being a humanistic leader and company. But behavior is behavior, and now that the pandemic has reduced (for now) the quest to profit during an unstable economy, many companies have again started to focus on cost-cutting programs, layoffs, fewer people-centered programs, and less tolerance for remote work. But people have stayed the same. The pandemic brought new insight into people’s lives, their need for flexibility and autonomy at work, and the opportunity for variety (the gig market). People also will have less tolerance for companies that turn away from their pandemic-friendly policies to outdated management policies of command and control.
Humanistic leadership is needed more than ever, especially during challenging economic times, and companies will need to figure out the right balance between economic challenges and people-centered policies if they want long-term retention.

Companies should refrain from returning to the old behavior, as people’s thoughts about work, especially those of the younger generation, have stayed the same.

Dr. Craig Nathanson