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Reminder: Humans Run Your Business

human nature

Collaboration, Coordination and Communication are the three C’s that govern employee engagement and determine the success rate of leaders as motivators and agents of change. This article discusses how you as a leader can use the primary desires of humans to collaborate, communicate and drive overall growth and success. 

How human are you?

To effectively communicate, leaders need a basic understanding of human nature. Call it experience, psychology or simply people management skills, it pivots around ‘people’- human nature. 

What is a leader without people to lead? A successful leader knows his people and understands that excellent interpersonal skills mean more people and more business.  

“I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement”

Charles Schwab

Under his leadership, Bethlehem Steel became the second-largest steelmaker in the US. Schwab built his career on the belief that you always get a better response from people by praise, not criticism. 

At the end of the day, leadership is about people. You cannot lead without understanding the innate human drives that are essential to human development and survival.

Humans have evolved to survive differently from other animals. We have endured as a species because we learned to work in groups and rely on problem-solving skills, rather than brute force, inborn physical capacities and instincts. (HBR)

In one of our exclusive features Leadership Development and Expert, Olivia Galvin shared her expert opinion on the importance of self-awareness in leaders. 

Leaders who develop their emotional intelligence, connect better with their teams and can efficiently meet the prevalent communication gap.  

 “When people have high emotional intelligence they’re always questioning how they’re influencing and impacting the people around them, whereas somebody who is judging their team or their work based on purely technical outputs” they’re missing out on a lot, said coach Galvin. Click here to read the entire interview.

Self-awareness in leaders can lead to improved ways of understanding others. According to an extended theory of Darwinism by Nitin Nohria and Paul Lawrence, leaders can gain a deeper understanding of others through four key drivers of human nature. 

Sewing human nature into the very fabric

human nature
To flourish and expand sew individuality into the very fabric of the company. Picture credits: Los Muertos Crew from Pexels

Combining scientific and psychological research, Harvard Business School Professors Nitin Nohria and Paul Lawrence wrote a book based on four key drives of human nature. If used in a balance these motivators can help redesign organizations to increase employee engagement and efficiency  

In their book Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Organisations, HBR professors Nitin Nohria and Paul Lawrence have discussed a ‘Four Drive Theory of human nature which according to them, governs every human action. 

Based on this theory, human beings are motivated by four core drives, to acquire, bond, learn, and defend. 

According to this theory, from leading your dream project to going out of the way to help your colleague, all your actions are led by one or all four core desires. 

As a modern homo sapien, you are likely to be predictable simply because your actions stem from a set mental apparatus that reflects everything you do. 

“Anyone and everyone interested in finding out more about their own nature as humans and the ultimate motives behind the choices that they and those around them make every day.” said HBS professor Nitin Nohria while talking about his ‘Four drive theory’ of human nature. 

Now, what would an organisation look like that was designed to use this four-drive theory in a collaborative effort to redesign, produce and deliver valuable services to the world?

An organisation that would design with these four drives in mind would need to ensure that an individual derives the desire to acquire, defend, learn and bond from his job. 

If we take the tech giant HP, for example, comparing this theory with HP’s existing HR strategy it can be seen that at HP,  people are motivated to do their best with a culture that respects differences.

The company crafts an attitude in its employees, allowing them to intentionally think about diversity and inclusion in its activities. It does so by knitting diversity into the fabric of the company. As an MNC, HP has had to prioritize this so that they are more efficient across different markets, understand local needs.

Understanding your employees can greatly impact employee engagement and in turn employee performance.

Ready for another Business Revolution?

A business entity can’t run without people. Managers and business leaders depend upon human resources to get things done in a timely and optimised manner. 

human nature
To sustain an organization must change as and when needed.  Picture credits: Pexels

What can managers take away from the ‘four drive theory’ ? they need to understand that “the jobs in their organization will only be fulfilling to their employees if they provide opportunities to reasonably satisfy” the basic human needs of appreciation, acquisition and bonding. 


The answer to this is simple- What does a human desire?

“There is one longing – almost as deep, almost as imperious, as the desire for food or sleep – which is seldom gratified. It is what Freud calls “the desire to be great”….”

Dale Carnegie in How to win Friends and Influence people

This desire to feel important acknowledged and appreciated is what can drive the desire to acquire. 

Can jobs: 

  1. Be designed so that people can acquire what they desire – fame, appreciation, money, mobility? 
  2. Allow people to connect better with others- to feel as proud members of a team?
  3. Enable people to continue to learn and to find ways of taking up projects that challenge and excite them, tickling their curiosity to innovate, grow?
  4. Assure people that they can defend their work, their job – they will be heard?

Jobs that fulfil these innate desires foster healthy competition, good company culture and overall success of the company. 

A good leader will ensure that the inter-unit healthy competition does not become a cut-throat competition, that there is mutual understanding and collaboration within the teams and the desire to acquire doesn’t overpower the desire to connect and vice-versa. 

“Leaders that can ensure that all their relationships address the four drives are more likely to succeed than those that don’t,” said HBS professors Nitin Nohria and Paul Lawrence

It all starts with a nod

human nature
Yes, people matter to companies that value continued growth. Picture credits:

Led by CHRO Tracy Keogh In 2015, HP expanded to the printer market and HP inc was founded.

In the many interviews that Keogh gave she continually specified upon a) growth mindset and b) priorities of the organisation. Did people matter to them? Did their ideas matter? 

Absolutely, yes! 

The Covid-19 pandemic has not ended yet but efforts to redesign workplaces, to make better HR strategies have begun. 

This time what will you choose? 

By now almost all of you are aware of the ‘great resignation’ wave, surprising to some and a much-awaited phenomenon for many, the ‘great resignation’ is certainly an eye-opener. 

One of the key factors influencing the high number of resignations is how employers treated their employees during the pandemic. 

A study from HR software company Personio of workers in the UK and Ireland showed 38% of those surveyed planned to quit in the next six months to a year.

The study further showed that more than half of those who were planning to quit their jobs wanted to do so because of worsening work-life balance, reduced benefits or toxic workplace culture. 

“For almost everyone, the pandemic put an acute focus on… how has this company I’ve given a lot to, handled me or my health or happiness during this time?”

Ross Seychell, CPO at Personio,

This time, what will you choose? people, output or both?

Looking for a C-suite executive who can do both? We’ve got you. Get in touch today!

Published by Sole Soul

Creative and competent media professional with 3 years of experience in digital and print. Skilled in Journalism, copywriting, Mobile and Social Journalism (MoJo), SEO and WordPress. In one line: I weave a million thoughts into beautiful words and images.

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