Getting the Most from the “Human Factor” of Business – 3 Practical Tips for Enlightened Leaders

Dear House Rules,

My agency is up and running and I’ve hired a copywriter, a graphic designer, and a project manager. I’ve never managed people before and I’m not sure where to even start.  So far my team members are all great at their jobs but I want to make sure that they keep producing and help me to create the agency that will stand out and grow.  How do I look beyond the title and see my employees as human?  


Beyond the Title

Dear Beyond, 

You are right that it is important for a leader to be enlightened and to understand what motivates their employees every day. For your question we reached out to Cheryl Beth Kuchler of CEO Think Tank® 

CEO Think Tank® works with small and mid-market CEO’s and C-Level executives who want to grow valuable and sustainable companies but are struggling to attract and retain A players, find enough hours in the day to tackle all of their priorities and have management teams who are pulling in different directions and aren’t accountable.  Their team of highly skilled and respected advisors are Certified “Scaling Up” business coaches and provide business advisory services as well as run Executive CEO Roundtable groups.  They give their clients back their time by helping them to get things done and driving profitability and growth in their companies.   

A few years ago I was privileged to hear Mark Goulston, Co-Founder of Heartfelt Leadership™ and author of “Just Listen”, which has been a #1 best-seller on Amazon and so popular that it’s been translated into 14 languages.  Mark’s a soft-spoken speaker, maybe the reason that he was one of the world’s best trainers of hostage negotiators for the FBI before becoming a best-selling author.  He commanded the attention of his audience of over 600 entrepreneurial executives, however, when he looked out across the room and started with, “A lot of you may love mankind, but you hate people.” 

As highly successful, results-driven leaders, a few of his listeners might have taken his words as an affront to their capabilities, but I’ve certainly seen many leaders struggle with the people challenges in their companies, often not too gracefully.   And very few CEO’s whom I know got into business because they wanted to have lots of employees

Yet knowing how to deal effectively with the “human factor” in business is what’s missing in many companies – and it’s often the biggest impediment to moving your company and your brand forward.  While the right tool kit can help make a job a lot less frustrating, as any good craftsman knows, you can’t just have the right tools for a job; you also need to know and understand the material you’re working with. 

And in the case of business, that means people.   

So how do you get the most from your “human factor”?  Below are 3 “practical” recommendations that Enlightened Leaders use to succeed and win.   

  1. Seek first to Understand 

The first simple people practice that we always recommend to leaders as they’re venturing into what for many is unfamiliar territory is the Gallup Q10 Strengths Interview.  Originally published in the book, “First, Break All the Rules”; by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, it’s a simple ten question interview that should be used with every new employee as well as at least once a year on an ongoing basis.  With questions like, “What’s the best form of recognition you’ve ever received and why?” and “What do you enjoy the most in your current role?” it’s a wonderful tool for deconstructing the underlying motivations and drives of people and helps to build the foundation of a productive relationship going forward.

2. Promote Self-Awareness 

Make it a practice to find and use an assessment to help you understand what makes the people on your team tick.  Whether it’s Myers Briggs Type Indicator™, the Gallup Strengths Finder, Kolbe, the Predictive Index, or DISC – all are tools that promote self-awareness, often in new and enlightening ways.  And – they can also help us to gain insight into how to work with those who are similar to us – as well as different.  I find the StrengthsFinder particularly helpful because it outlines the Talents that an individual has as well as their non-Talent areas – so that you know what you can expect and what’s going to be challenging if not impossible for someone to do. But whatever you use, make it part of your Culture and your “recipe” for relationship success. 

3. Be Curious 

Take time to create relationships and get to know your colleagues.  Not just at work.  Formal teambuilding certainly helps but just grabbing a coffee or lunch can too. My husband, the Director of Organizational Effectiveness at the Medical College at the University of Pennsylvania is fond of saying, “You need to have the relationship, before you need the relationship.”  Ask people on your team about their family, important events in their lives and be curious.  What gives them passion and enthusiasm – in their work and in their lives?  Why did they chose the career that they’re in?  What’s been their all-time favorite vacation?  Undertanding the context of people’s lives will give you insights into what motivates them.  And you may find these words of wisdom from Goulston helpful, “In matters of the world, stay in control.  In matters of the heart, let go.” 

And if you’d like to learn from an Enlightened CEO who has put relationships first and foremost on his agenda for the past 30 years, come hear Ari Weinzweig, the co-Founder and CEO of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses when he’s here in Philly speaking to our community of CEO’s on Friday, October 20th. For more information or to register just click here:  http://bit.ly/Aris12NaturalLawsofBusiness

About Xavier Creative House

Founded in 2013, Xavier Creative House (XCH) is an award-winning healthcare creative agency specializing in pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device. XCH’s global team of brand builders and healthcare marketers, tech-savvy go-getters, and innovative dream-vetters are passionate about the big idea that changes behavior in the healthcare marketplace. They believe life is about connections and that healthcare is about life. That is why XCH delivers bold and evocative creative solutions, amplified by meaningful technology, to energize brands and authentically connect with patients and HCPs.

Where Healthcare Brands Live®

For more information, contact

Sunny White
Founder & CEO of Xavier Creative House