A Call for Human Leadership

When I traveled and delivered keynotes, I thought I had to portray myself as older and less feminine in order to be more credible and earn respect. I would curl my hair and wear pearls and bland clothing in an attempt to prove to others that my role as a Senior Executive Officer at Toyota Singapore was justified, especially because I was in my early/mid-twenties.

I dressed this way in an effort to conceal the sides of me that I thought were weak: my female side and my age. Instead of viewing those parts of my identity as strengths, I saw them as weaknesses.

Looking back, I now realize that while I connected to my audiences when I spoke that by being more of my authentic self I could have taken that connection to another level. Essentially, I did not amplify my message because I wasn’t embracing all parts of myself as powerful and unique.

Reflecting on this realization, I found myself analyzing my leadership style now and how it’s evolved over the years. We used to draw so many lines with different parts of our identities, and people now have a desire to merge and blend those lines (especially since the pandemic began).

This concept of 360° leadership is about contributing your whole self to the way you lead. This means allowing different sides of yourself to show up at work and using your human skills to do the best job you can for you, your people and your company.

Over the last decade of my work, I’ve emphasized the qualities that leaders who are successful in this Human-Centric Era possess: empathy, compassion and understanding are a few that always stand out.

When discussing the concept of human leadership, there are three areas of your life that can contribute to business leaders’ ability to be more human and, in turn, more successful.


By prioritizing our health—mental, physical, etc.—we prioritize our people. 

This includes business leaders being honest with themselves about how they’re feeling.

Do you expect one of your employees to come in to work when they’re coughing up a storm and bedridden? We both know the answer to that question.

Here’s the challenging part: ask yourself if you were in that situation if you would expect yourself to get over it and go into work anyway.

Treating yourself as you would one of your employees is essential when taking care of yourself, which includes the often overlooked concept of self-care.

Also, checking in on your people is a great way to engage in short dialogue. Asking someone how they’re feeling when they return to work after being sick is thoughtful and human, because you would want people to do the same for you. 


People often think of religion or spirituality as being polarizing, but it doesn’t have to be.

Sharing things that are important to you will show your people that you’re not ashamed of your identity or trying to conceal any parts of yourself from them. 

Feeling free to be and show up to work as your whole self every day will contribute to a strong work ethic powered by feeling comfortable in the workplace.

As a human business leader, the more you share about yourself, the more your people will be inclined to share about themselves as well. 

The key to leading a successful business from the inside out is knowing who your people are, and discussing your practices, meditations and traditions (whatever they may be) is a great way to get to know people on yet another level.


This word has been more important in 2020 than ever before. 

All people have so many layers to their identity, and each layer makes an individual more unique.

Think about your identities and ask yourself, How does this contribute to my ability to lead?

In the past, the workplace was a place where people focused on work and not so much on being their unique selves while they worked.

We spend so much of our time working, whether that’s in an office, at home or another location, and restricting ourselves to one part of our identity is not productive at all.

In addition to critically thinking about your own intersectional identities, bring this up for your people to think about as well. Use your identities as an example to open up to your people and show them that you’re prompting them to engage in an exercise that you challenged yourself to as well.

How You Can Implement Human Leadership

In 2020 alone, our worlds have changed drastically and so have our expectations of work. Now is the time to bring our human skills to the workplace and reveal how valuable they are.

We all bring unique abilities to the table, and those differences—when celebrated and united—make something great out of each business.

There is a great yearning in organizations around the world to be more themselves and to cultivate their competencies as human leaders to show up in the new era that we live in now.

In an effort to answer this need, I have designed a 6-Week Human Leadership Group Coaching Program that I’m launching in January 2021 for five individuals maximum. If you or a team member feel the calling to cultivate your human skills in the workplace, reply to this message to discuss how you can play a part in the future of human-centric leadership.

Let’s continue pushing ourselves to create the best human world we can.

In love and respect,

Hilary Corna


Hilary Corna

Bestselling Author, Keynote Speaker, Podcast Host, Founder of the Human Way ™...

Hilary’s favorite title is HUMAN.


I am starting a revolution. One business and one person at a time.



When was the last time your inbox inspired you? Sign up today!

Thank you for subscribing!