The Inspiration of Shared Humanity
Effective leaders inspire by acknowledging the hopes, fears, and capabilities that unite us all.
WRITTEN BY: ADAM DANYAL
We often forget that behind every title, position, and responsibility, we are all simply human. Despite differences in experience, talent, and opportunity, we share the universal hopes, struggles, and aspirations that make up the human journey. When leaders let their guard down and lead with humanity, it creates inspiration and possibility.
As Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf said, "True courage is being afraid, and going ahead and doing your job anyhow." We all feel fear and doubt when tackling a new challenge. By acknowledging the fear we all feel when facing adversity, leaders empower others to push forward despite uncertainty.
Or consider leadership guru Peter Drucker's advice, "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things." The human temptation for any leader is self-interest and comfort. But remembering our shared duty to do what's ethical inspires even difficult decisions.
Emphasizing our shared humanity is also powerful when celebrating success. After winning the World Cup with Team USA, star midfielder Carli Lloyd didn't highlight her talent or preparation. She simply said, "Success comes from years of hard work and struggles. We all go through it." Lloyd's words affirmed that fulfillment comes not from glory, but from the universal journey of perseverance that makes glory possible.
Even constructively confronting failure benefits from this mindset. Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden noted, "Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability." Wooden understood that highlighting unmet potential through the lens of universal capability, rather than individual blame, helps people grow.
At key moments, all leaders do well to remember that titles and talents fade, but our shared humanity endures. Connecting decisions, actions, and messages to the universal hopes and challenges within each person creates inspiration. It affirms that we rise and fall together, and that possibility lives within us all. For when a leader touches that chord of shared humanity, they strike a note that resonates in every heart.
So listen for it - that common melody that connects us. And when you hear it, be bold enough to play it. Its music unleashes something infinite within us all.
Humanity is the song every heart sings. As a leader, your power comes from making sure it is always in key.
From our Leadership Bookshelf:
WRITTEN BY: JULIA DANYAL
In his acclaimed book “Leadership from the Inside Out,” author Kevin Cashman provides transformative insights on authentic, purpose-driven leadership. Grounded in extensive research, Cashman's teachings help leaders align their values, behaviors, and mindset.
Leadership starts with inner self-discovery to unlock one's full potential and purpose. As Cashman writes, "Leadership is an inner journey of self-discovery."
Self-awareness is crucial - leaders must "lead from the inside out" by connecting with their authentic self.
Values anchor leadership. Cashman advises grounding decisions in "changeless values" even amidst uncertainty.
Growth matters more than glory. Cashman calls leaders to focus on "contributing value to others", not on power or prestige.
Leadership from the Inside Out is a powerful guide to finding one's inner voice and leading with integrity. By taking Cashman's wisdom to heart, leaders can authentically serve others and make a real difference.