We keep hearing how competitive the marketplace has gotten. With the economy not quite up to scratch and globalization accelerating the speed of business, leaders find themselves scrambling to stay ahead of things with their strategy efforts. Gaining a competitive advantage can be product innovation, entering new markets, diversifying product lines…the list goes on and on. One of the things that is a constant, no matter your strategy. One thing that consistently makes each one of those plans, initiatives, projects, or whatever you want to call them, actually come to life. Human beings.

In this context, I prefer the word human being over people. When we say it there is an underlying current of reverence for the sanctity of life. A sentient being whose existence has value and matters, whether we are able to define it or not. In all of the clamoring for profit, the fundamental purpose of business which I wholly support, there is a quiet reality that rests at the center of it all. A human being. And it is this collective group of human beings which makes business even possible.

The potential for each human being to develop to a place where their innate talent is forefront in their efforts and responsibilities is an important part to professional development. Is this how you lead and develop the human beings in your organization? It should be. That untapped potential will make your organization electrified in its efforts. Providing an outlet within your organization for people to be who they know they can be is a powerful statement that will pay dividends year over year.

Here are a 4 reasons human potential should infect your organization and how to make it happen.

  1. Human beings ALWAYS have purpose – It is in our nature to want to make a positive contribution to something bigger than ourselves. We want what we do to matter in some way that is meaningful to us. We MUST have purpose, or we begin looking for it somewhere else. Instead of trying to train the humanity out of those in your organization, let their humanity infect your organization. Imagine that. Human beings interacting with other human beings to meet the needs of a lot human beings. The atmosphere of your organization doesn’t need to be much more complicated than that.
  2. Human potential doesn’t recognize limits – When human beings get to operate in their “zone”, they are completely unstoppable. Everything becomes a possibility. No one can demand that kind of dedication and focus, no matter how well written the job description is. Ask those human beings you’re leading what would excite them about doing their job. Then…shut up and just listen. Seriously consider whatever they say. You may be surprised by the creativity you discover.
  3. The pursuit of human potential is contagious – You don’t have to get everyone on board to make this work! Find some influential human beings in your organization and let them loose. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. There have to be some form of boundaries, but don’t get so hung up on them. Let them be guard rails so they can take a curve a bit faster than normal without the fear of going over the edge. Once others see the freedom and gratification that comes with it, as well as the support from leadership, they’ll come around soon enough.
  4. Human potential frees up leadership – So often leaders read about how they should be interacting with others. YOU are a human being too. How would you like to have the freedom to explore and hunt down your potential? Not to tame or subdue it, but interact with it and learn to run wild with it. The best part about being a leader is you get to lead by example. Be an example of human potential gone wild. Infect your organization with your human potential.

Every human being on this planet has something amazing to bring to the world. We also have some very ugly things to bring to the world as well. Great leadership recognizes that amazing bit of human potential and helps clear a space for it to thrive and choke out the ugly bits. That’s your responsibility to the human beings in your organization. I don’t think I need to point out the profit that can come from this…you already get that.

Celebrate and empower human potential. Run wild. Be profitable.

I would love to hear your comments on this…human to human.

  • Mark Vincent

    Great article in that it simplifies the workplace interactions to a human behavioral context. This opens the creative channel for serendipity in design and business outcome.

    Unfortunately it also opens the door to complacency and distraction in the workplace. The altruism that you suggest is a natural part of human behaviour doesn’t carry across all in our society. Mean, dishonest and selfish people in the world all work somewhere and gravitate to the places where there are holes in the net like those that you suggest.

    I would love to work in an environment similar to what you describe but the reality of human nature suggests that such a utopia is unlikely to survive.

  • William, I saw #3 in action during a military deployment. When our influencers were up, everyone was up. Or down. Future post on setting up a “human potential management/development system??”

  • I can’t disagree with the many of the points you bring up, Mark. I suppose my question is, “Should we allow the exceptions to dictate the rules?” Perfection is completely unattainable, yet constantly reaching for excellence in areas should always be the focus of quality leadership.

    A culture that embraces human potential, then hiring for culture fit, should catch most of the “mean, dishonest and selfish people”. If not, then it’s a leader’s responsibility to properly manage those who prefer to unravel a culture rather than flourish in it. An invitation to take that brand of behavior into a culture that will allow it. Best for everyone.

  • I appreciate you sharing your personal experience with this Nathan. As for a future post on what you suggested, I may definitely have to look into that. Thanks for your contribution and feedback, and thanks for connecting on Twitter!!

  • William – Nice reminder about the key to any organization – I guess its human potential or social capital. As a co-founder of a mobile meeting platform whose tagline is “the simpliest way to have business professionals meet face to face” – your article resonated with me. We are trying to solve the problem of people that work in large enterprises that don’t know their colleagues in other departments, divisions or regions. Be great to chat! Thanks, Peter

  • Thanks for your candor Peter. I would be happy to chat. Send me an email through the Contact page on our site and we’ll organize something!

  • Pingback: Don't Treat People The Same. You Lose Potential. | The Leadership Advisor()