How to be a good human and a good leader

I was not a nice human when I was younger. I was angry, had a log (not a chip) on both shoulders, and was very quick to escalate a conversation. From controlled to crazy out of control. Highly emotional. I had zero emotional intelligence, and I didn’t care. At that time, anyway. 

I was a tradie, so it didn’t seem like a big deal that I was angry AF. Everyone was like that. Or were they? There weren’t too many on my crew that had the lack of emotional control that I did.  

But I made it ok. Until one day it just got out of control. I had a massive stand up blue in the workshop, with the boilermaker on our shift. It was so uncool! Let’s just say that the language we used towards each other was colourful. 

My lovely wife remembers the conversation that evening, and it was about my baring my soul and being brutally honest about my lack of people skills. I don’t remember the exact words I used, but Mrs G remembers me saying that I was sick of not being able to get on with people, and that I was totally committed to changing my approach. And learning new skills. I just didn’t have great communication skills.  

And it meant that I wasn’t a high quality human. Why, because my behaviour hurt others. It literally caused hurt.  

So, I wanted to change. But where to start… in the elusive quest for better communication and connection with others. And being a better human. 

It started with study at Monash University, doing Management, and then a HR degree and post graduate Diploma at CQU. That’ll fix it, I thought. The study was useful, and so was the work that I was doing on trying to understand humans. Understanding others was about watching and listening. Looking and learning. What made people tick? And what made them crack? 

The journey has never stopped (and I feel like it’s in an ongoing mission). Recently, I completed a psychology degree. In saying that, the one qualification that was the best thing I ever studied was NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), and love it or loathe it, that program was an eye opener into the human species. And how we all connect. Having studied people for nearly 30 years (and now doing a PhD in behavioural science), I share with leaders some of the simple techniques that they can use to improve their leadership and their connection. Especially when they are under pressure, which is the hardest time to connect. And the hardest time to be a good human. 

Here is my take on what it takes to be a good human, and how that relates to leadership, and leading under pressure. I am still learning these skills, but here are some of the important things I have learnt to date: 

1. Do no harm 

This is such a simple rule, but one that can easily be overlooked for whatever reason. Now, I get that most people will not go through their life without hurting someone. But it is rule number one of being a good human.  

What no harm means is subjective. In my words it is simply, don’t deliberately make someone feel bad. Don’t deliberately denigrate. Don’t communicate in a way that is aggressive, abusive, or abrupt. Which can happen when you are under emotional strain. You might lash out. Or you might not take the time to think about your impact on others. 

No-one likes people that make them feel bad about themselves.  

For leaders, what doing no harm means is being committed to doing leadership work in a way that is respectful. Regardless of whether you like a team member, whether or not they are in your in or out group (yes, you categorise your team members), every team member deserves respect. Even when you are busy, or under pressure. 

Yes, it takes time to be respectful. And yes, you can do no harm even when you are having robust conversations or delivering bad news. That is, if you plan the conversation and the information being delivered. Like being a good human, if you can remove aggression, abruptness, and abuse from your communication style, you will do no harm. How do I know that – because at least 75% of the DISC profiles that I read say that the person will get put out if you are abrupt with them.  

You really can do no harm if you are intentional about being respectful. It takes work, but it feels a lot better than ruminating about hurting others, if that ever happens.  

Do no harm. 

2. Leave people better than you found them 

If you have ever been to one of our training programs, you will have heard me say these words. Because it is my absolute purpose in life, and it has been the biggest learning that you can do to actually help people have a better emotional experience… just by being around you. You can positively impact another human. 

Now, if you are willing to get a bit cosmic with me, you will know that I believe every single human carries around an aura. An aura is emotionally charged. And your aura is contagious. Yes, contagious. So, in short, the happier you are, the happier those around you will be. Just by you being in their space (and the largest number I have read is nine meters). That means that you have a nine meter radius of energy that is impacting others. I did say it would be a bit cosmic. 

So, now that you know you are influencing others with your emotional state, would it make sense to try and feel good so that others do in your presence? You know the old saying ‘they light up the room when they walk in.’ That is because those people walk into the room happy. Plain and simple.  

Let’s go one step further and say that if you are going to influence others, anyway, you might as well be intentional about it. By managing your emotional state. 

For leaders, what this means is to be positive. Or at least, more positive than you are negative. This is not about positive thinking, or sunshine or rainbows, but it is about things like using language that is about uplifting, not putting down. The good thing about leadership is that you get to work on this over time, because you get to see your team members every day, and you can keep working on this one.  

When you are under pressure, that is the time when you are most likely to be direct. Negative. And angry. And that is the time that you will not leave people better than you found them. Try to be positive in your emotions and your language. 

Leave people better than you found them. 

3. Learn more so you can share more 

This is such an under-estimated skill for being a good human.  

Some theory first (on from the Tony Robbins playbook at least) in relation to learning. Or growth. Tony Robbins’s theory is that the human species has two major human needs, and those are to grow and contribute. In theory, the more we grow and contribute, the happier we are in life. Great. 

Let’s take this a step further and consider how this theory could make you a good human. Because the more that you grow, the more you can contribute, right? If you stop learning, you stagnate, and your level of contribution remains the same. Until you start learning again. 

To me, being a good human means working on yourself so that you can add more value to the planet, and you can share more with others. Share more knowledge, share deeper conversations, and even share more wealth (the more you learn, the more you earn). You see, the old adage of you can’t help others until you can help yourself, and you need to fill your own cup first is true… to a point… if you are filling your cup with knowledge of some sort. Even self-knowledge. 

Some people say we are like trees. We are either green or brown, growing or dying. And there is some truth to this simple analogy.  

For leaders, and again, you will experience this during our programs – the first day is about learning (LEAD – learn, engage, articulate, demonstrate). Learn about yourself, learn about others, and learn about leadership. Learn more. Even just learn about why you do leadership… most of the leaders that come through our programs can’t explain why they do leadership. So, if the leader doesn’t know why they do leadership, how will their teams know. 

Learn more so you can share more. 

In summary, being a good human is an achievable goal! It takes effort, and the best way to do it is to make it a priority. So, make humans your priority. And watch your life and your leadership improve.

And could you please do me a favour, and share this with leaders everywhere? This is an important topic for leaders. 

Or click the image below if you’d like to chat about what leadership means to you.

If you would like to learn more about Anton or The Guinea Group, please click hereto book into Anton’s calendar, to:

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About Anton

Anton has dedicated his working life to helping leaders to upgrade their mindset, upskill their leadership, and uplift their teams! With a focus on helps leaders to better lead under pressure. Anton is an entrepreneur, speaker, consultant, bestselling author and founder of The Guinea Group. Over the past 19 years, Anton has worked with over 175+ global organisations, he has inspired workplace leadership, safety, and cultural change. He’s achieved this by combining his corporate expertise, education (Bachelor of HR and Psychology), and infectious energy levels.
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