Human-Centered Leadership: IT Leaders’ Secrets to Nail it [+Free eBook]

Jorge Farah May 24, 2024
- 13 min read

Our latest eBook,Unlocking The Human Element in IT And Service Management,” provides insights from IT mavens who have pioneered this empathetic approach. These leaders share not just strategies but their transformative experiences, proving how placing humans at the center of IT initiatives cultivates innovation, engagement, and a deeper sense of purpose within teams. 

You will find a link to download the eBook below! It is the second delivery of the series “Unlocking IT,” where we bring together the valuable knowledge different guests have shared on our podcast, Ticket Volume, about different relevant industry topics. You can find the first installment, “Unlocking Experience Management,” here.

Join us as we discover the potential of embracing human-centered leadership and the profound impact of empathy, emotional intelligence, and care for the team's well-being on organizational culture and success.

Let’s get into it!

Table of contents

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Human Centered Leadership

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What is Human-Centered Leadership?

Beneath the gleaming surface of every cutting-edge technology and meticulously designed process lies an undeniable truth: at their core, they are for and about people. Human-centered leadership shines a light on the importance of recognizing the humanity intertwined with our digital advancements. 

This leadership style delves deep into the essence of what it means to lead in the technological age, acknowledging that behind the scenes of every innovation are individuals with hopes, challenges, and dreams. It's a perspective that transforms the workplace, turning it into a canvas where empathy, collaboration, and emotional intelligence paint a picture of inclusivity and productivity.

This philosophy fosters an environment where open dialogue, mutual respect, and genuine care for one another's growth are the norm, not the exception. Leaders who embrace this model act as architects of spaces that encourage innovation, spurred by the understanding that when people feel supported and understood, they are more likely to take risks and think creatively.

In practice, human-centered leadership can be applied in many ways: from personalized career development plans that cater to each team member's aspirations to regular check-ins that go beyond discussing project statuses to genuinely inquire about one's well-being. 

It seeks to pull apart the silos that often exist between hierarchical levels and departments, fostering a sense of unity and shared purpose. Such leaders are keen listeners, adept at reading between the lines to discern the unspoken needs of their team and respond with actions that uplift and empower.

Benefits of putting people first as a leader

This people-first approach not only nurtures a thriving workplace culture but also unlocks a cascade of benefits that ripple through every aspect of an organization.

By championing the human elements of empathy, understanding, and support, leaders can unlock unprecedented levels of creativity, commitment, and camaraderie among their teams. 

The transformative impact of putting people first is both profound and multifaceted, encompassing:

  • Enhanced team engagement and performance: Cultivating an environment where team members feel a deep sense of belonging and valued for their unique contributions leads to heightened engagement. This sense of connection fosters a vibrant, energetic workplace where high performance is the natural outcome.

  • Increased adaptability: In the fast-paced world of IT, change is the only constant. Teams that feel genuinely supported and understood exhibit remarkable flexibility, viewing change not as a threat but as an opportunity for growth and innovation.

  • Improved problem-solving: Diversity is the wellspring of innovation. A leadership style that values and seeks out varied perspectives ensures that problem-solving is both creative and inclusive, leading to solutions that are as effective as they are insightful.

Characteristics of a human-centered leader

The hallmark traits of a human-centered leader include:

  • Empathy: More than a buzzword, empathy is the cornerstone of human-centered leadership. These leaders have an innate ability to put themselves in others' shoes, understanding not just the what and the how, but the why behind team members' actions, feelings, and motivations. This deep empathetic connection fosters an environment of trust and openness.

  • Effective communication: Human-centered leaders are masters of dialogue. They recognize that communication is a two-way street, requiring not just clarity in conveying ideas and expectations but also an attentive ear to listen to concerns, feedback, and insights from their team. This open channel nurtures a culture of transparency and collaboration.

  • Valuing each individual: Recognizing the unique strengths and needs of each team member is a signature trait of human-centered leaders. They tailor their approach to nurture not just the collective capabilities of their team but also to support each individual's personal and professional development. This bespoke leadership approach ensures that every team member feels seen, appreciated, and motivated.

  • Prioritizing emotional well-being: In the high-stakes, fast-paced IT environment, it's easy to overlook the emotional toll that challenges and changes can take on a team. Human-centered leaders place a high premium on the emotional well-being of their team, creating a supportive atmosphere where stress is managed, and resilience is built.

  • Fostering an inclusive environment: These leaders understand that diversity is a strength that enriches the fabric of a team. They actively work to create an inclusive culture where different perspectives are not just welcomed but celebrated. This inclusivity is the bedrock upon which innovative ideas and solutions are built.


IT leaders have spoken: Secrets to be a human-centered leader

Drawing from the wisdom of seasoned IT leaders, our free eBook, "Unlocking The Human Element in IT And Service Management," presents a compilation of insightful quotes that illuminate the path to becoming a truly human-centric leader. These leaders share their experiences, challenges, and triumphs, offering actionable tips that embody the essence of leading with empathy, vision, and purpose. 

Below, we delve into these pearls of wisdom, translating their rich experiences into practical advice for nurturing a more engaged, resilient, and innovative IT landscape.

Embrace individuality to unlock potential

Effective leaders recognize and honor the unique backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives each team member brings to the table. By understanding and respecting these individual differences, leaders can tailor their approach to motivate, support, and guide their team members in a way that resonates deeply and personally, fostering an environment where everyone can thrive.



"At the end of the day, we're dealing with people who come to each situation in their own experiential context, their own history, their own baggage, their own thoughts and belief systems. And as a leader, you need to be able to work through and manage those different things, intricacies of that person, and to apply the right theory at the right times, and to that right person, in that right context."

NJ Robinson
Expert in IT leadership
Episode 3 of Ticket Volume


Cultivate genuine connections

By taking the time to engage one-on-one, leaders can uncover the underlying reasons behind their team members' actions and resistance to change. This approach not only addresses immediate challenges but also builds a culture of trust and openness, where team members feel valued and understood.



"You can learn from just observing how they're working. (...) Have they just done it because they've always done it this way? Are they averse to change? And you can start talking that out. Sometimes you really do need to understand the kind of the heart behind the hold-back."

Megal Engels
VP of IT Support for Peoples Bank
Episode 8 of Ticket Volume

Lead with vision and purpose

Human-centered leaders guide their teams with a compelling sense of direction, understanding that to inspire and motivate, they must first be deeply connected to their own values and goals. This vision serves as a "compass" that aligns the team's efforts and fosters a shared commitment to a meaningful journey.



"I often reflect on my mentor, Zig Ziglar, who used to emphasize that a ship's captain, in essence, can only be an exceptional leader when they wholeheartedly adhere to the compass. Leaders must have a clear sense of where they're steering their ship. This is the essence of leadership. Leaders possess the foresight to see into the distant future, the mid-range, the immediate, and even the past."

Gregg Gregory
Speaker, Trainer, and Consultant
Episode 65 of Ticket Volume

Empower through understanding purpose

By helping team members recognize the impact and value of their work, leaders can unlock a deeper level of engagement and fulfillment. This alignment not only propels the organization forward but also nurtures a culture where individuals feel genuinely motivated and connected to the collective mission.



"Firstly, I aim to discover the purpose behind my work. Moreover, I strive for those around me to also comprehend their purpose and the value they bring. I have the opportunity to pursue this goal daily. I investigate ways to enhance the experience for our associates and service agents, who, despite our organization's size, can make a significant impact."

Rocky McGuire
Experience Manager at Unisys
Episode 48 of Ticket Volume

Value every voice for comprehensive insight

It’s important to remember the critical role of listening to every team member, especially those on the front lines. This approach not only harnesses a wealth of direct insight into customer and employee experiences but also empowers those who might not typically have a voice in strategic discussions. 

By valuing every perspective, leaders can gain a more nuanced understanding of their organization's challenges and opportunities, fostering a culture where every contribution is acknowledged and valued.



"And so I get to look at Digital Experience Management. I get a look at, you know, our contact center and the cool things that we can do with that and ask the questions, how does this impact how the agent works and their experience?

And then also ask the question, how do we help the agents add value in different ways, right? So one of the biggest things, I'll advocate forever until the day that I die. is, nobody knows your customer or your employees better than your service desk. Nobody, right? Because I, if you're not asking your service desk for their opinion, their voice about what they're seeing, data tells you one thing, but there's a sentiment piece that goes with that, right?"

Rocky McGuire
Experience Manager at Unisys
Episode 48 of Ticket Volum

Leadership is a shared journey

True leadership is about persuasion, not coercion; it's about inspiring others to follow willingly by embodying the values, vision, and empathy that resonate deeply. Such leaders understand that their strength lies not in their ability to command but in their capacity to connect, inspire, and lead by example, forging paths that others are compelled to follow.



"In my view, if you're a leader without followers, you're essentially a solitary individual taking a lonely walk, and your leadership won't endure for long. So, it's crucial to attract followers.

I often recall what Dwight Eisenhower used to demonstrate. He would place a short piece of string on a table, roughly 12 inches long, and invite someone to put their finger on one end and push it, causing it to bunch up into a ball. Then, he would stretch it out and say, 'Now pull it.' He'd point out how it obediently followed wherever you led it. Leadership involves cultivating followers who willingly embark on a journey when you point them in a direction."

Gregg Gregory
Speaker, Trainer, and Consultant
Episode 65 of Ticket Volume

Final thoughts

The importance of maintaining a focus on the human elements of our work cannot be overstated. The secrets shared by IT leaders in our eBook underscore the immense value of human-centered leadership. Here are key takeaways to remember:

  • The significance of empathy and emotional intelligence in leadership have a big impact on organizational success.
  • Inclusivity and diversity are not just moral imperatives but strategic advantages.
  • The power of listening and support in building strong, resilient teams.

We invite you to delve into these insights and more by downloading our free eBook, "Unlocking the Human Element in IT and Service Management." As you explore these pages, we hope you are inspired to implement these practices in your own leadership journey. 

Also, you can access the whole “Unlocking IT” series for further insights into other curated industry topics that will help you stay ahead of the curve.

Read other articles like this : Ticket Volume podcast

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