Karin’s Leadership Articles

Before you make your next leadership decision, stop and think: What’s the impact on the human beings in this scenario?

Fred’s Story

Fred (not his real name) has a beautiful habit. Every time we discuss a strategy, policy, or project, he stops and asks about the “human beings.” His words are transformative. Fred doesn’t speak of “resources,” “headcount” “people” “employees” or even “team members.” He talks about humans.

Fred Asks…

  • “How will this change impact the human beings in that center?”
  • “Will this system be hard for 400 human beings to learn in 3 days?”
  • “What information do these human beings need to be successful?”
  • “How much time can we give these 800 human beings to look for a new job?”
  • “How will those 12 human beings react to our decision.”
  • “Is this the right thing to do as a human being?

Lessons From Fred

It’s not semantics. It’s people. Words change conversations– every time.

I’m entrusted with 10,000 human beings, not human resources.

I must…

  • slow down
  • ask better questions
  • learn who they are
  • tell them more
  • inspire
  • lead better

We must…

Pause. Think deeper. Put ourselves in their shoes. Think about our friends in similar situations. Personalize our leadership. Be a human being leading human beings.

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Eric Dingler

    Shift the conversation to focus on the human beings…great post and question.

    For us, it’s caught in our second core value. Respect. Every meeting agenda flows through our five core values as a framework. When we are deciding something, question two is: “Is this and how do we have respect for those involved?”

    Also, we use names of actual people. If it’s a decision about staff, one of us might ask; “How do we see this effecting Meredith?” Same if it’s a decision related to campers, volunteers or guest.

  2. letsgrowleaders

    Eric, I love the way you run your meetings. Great example about using people’s real names… and consider the individuals impacted. I have used that too. When you put a real name to it, you begin to realize their are other concerns that you may have overlooked. Very important add. As always, thank you.

  3. Henna Inam

    Hi Karen – Love your notion of asking how does this affect the 10,000 people (or Eric as Fred talks about it)!

    • Henna Inam

      I meant Meredith – as Eric talks about it…Clearly commenting on blog posts prior to having cup of coffee is dangerous…:-)

  4. joe

    What a great perspective! I believe in the power of words and this is a great use of that power. Thanks for sharing!

    • letsgrowleaders

      Joe, thanks so much, great to see you in the conversation. Words indeed are powerful.

  5. Steve Borek

    Servant leadership without an agenda.

  6. Tony Garrihy

    The world needs more Freds.

  7. Matt McWilliams

    Human beings are a rather inconvenient bunch.

    It took me about four years as a leader to realize I needed them though. A lot of them. Ones like me, most of them not like me. Men, women, young, old.

    All of them needed.

    When I started focusing on the people…I faked it at first…and their needs and struggles, I was a much better leader.

  8. letsgrowleaders

    Matt, beautiful sentiment. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  9. roopak desai

    amazingly simple advice to be a better person and a better leader!!

  10. Susan Mazza

    I loved this post Karin, especially this: “It’s not semantics. It’s people. Words change conversations– every time.” — They most certainly do!

    • letsgrowleaders

      Susan, Thank you so much. I’m always amazed at the power of words for good…and…

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