Human-Centred Leadership

Victoria Pelletier
3 min readAug 20, 2021


The word “autocratic” is the Latin version of the Greek work “autokrateia.” The word simply means “absolute rule.” If you’ve been in the corporate environment long enough, you’ve likely slogged through the experience of working for an autocratic leader. Though they may be charismatic, well organized, and highly skilled, they’re highly authoritative. While the autocratic model of leadership may have some benefit in certain situations, creativity, trust, and morale can be crushed under the rule of an autocratic leader. Instead, we need leaders that are human-centred leaders.

A recent study conducted by EY found that most companies of the Covid era fall into two groups, namely survivors and thrivers.[1] What makes a thriver? Thrivers are “built around human-centred transformations that break down silos, increase agility, improve innovation, and drive toward long-term value.” Thrivers are led by human-centred leaders, who among other transformative actions, nourish trust and creativity, while leading with empathy. Human-centred leadership is not a brand-new approach in the organizational marketplace. That said, the improvisation and flexibility that we’ve needed to get our teams through the darkest months of the pandemic certainly accelerated the rise of the human-centred approach. While this form of leadership is not laissez-faire — anything goes — it does create an atmosphere of collaboration, togetherness, and concern and empathy for the individual.

Human-centred leaders practice and model empathy. This means that the leader prioritizes the needs of team members, customers, and other stakeholders when mapping the vision of the organization and executing the day-to-day operation of the organization. While an autocratic leader might frame the organizational mission and vision in measurable language like, “Be the world’s largest producer and exporter of widgets,” a human-centred leader speaks the language of relationship. We seek to improve the quality of life and the strength of communities by creating widgets that matter. Hear the difference? In a human-centric approach to leadership, the organization is stronger when its people are stronger. Tactical decisions flow from this person-first perspective.

Human-centred leaders spur creativity by honouring the contributions of team members, customers, and other stakeholders; they are willing to infuse these contributions into product, service, and organizational development. To spark creativity, human-centred leaders move organizations away from a silo structure and toward a “cross-functional, collaborative ecosystem” that encourages system-wide conversation, problem-solving, information sharing, and celebration of successes. In a creative environment, every stakeholder has license to innovate. Every innovation moves the organization forward.

Trust building and trustworthiness are at the core of a human-centered approach. The study found that, “80% of leaders agree that establishing stakeholder trust is increasingly part of a CEO’s role.” How does the leader cultivate trust? By seeing meaningful outcomes as the best outcomes. Again, being the largest producer and exporter of widgets is not enough. Stakeholders want to know that their work has purpose and that their presence in the life of the organization matters. Leaders who exhibit an interest and commitment to improving the lives of people are the kinds of leaders who are viewed as trustworthy and capable of cultivating a trusting environment.

If all of this makes sense to you, then perhaps you are poised to shift toward human-centred leadership or already practice it. If the preceding 600 words are feeding a migraine, maybe it’s time to look in the mirror. Here’s the reality: surviving organizations cannot live on life support indefinitely. If an organization wants to thrive, the transformation begins with leadership.

[1] Extracted from:

Published By Victoria Pelletier | Executive | CEO Transformation | Public Speaker | Author

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Victoria Pelletier

Senior Executive | Speaker | Author | Passionate Diversity & Inclusion Leader | Forbes Council Member | Networking Champion | Board Director