Human Centered Leadership and Your Growing Business

May 12, 2022 | Listen

Human-Centered Leadership and Your Growing Business with Rachel Lipton

In the pursuit of business success, we often overlook a critical element: our people. They are the driving force behind our goals and purpose. As leaders, it’s our duty to keep our employees content, engaged, and productive, especially in challenging times. Yet, the pressures of business growth can lead us to prioritize KPIs at the expense of our team’s well-being. Many leaders struggle with the transition to human-centered leadership, where employees come first. This means fostering personal and professional growth, and adapting our culture to meet their needs.

But how do you achieve this kind of leadership?

Where do you start?

And how does it guarantee that it will drive greater and sustainable success for your business.

In this episode of Help! My Business Is Growing, our guest Rachel Lipton fleshes out what being a human-centered leader means and what it looks like in actual, tangible, real-life terms.

Timestamps for this week’s episode

  • 03:13 What is our inner critic, why does it exist, and how can we silence it?

  • 05:56 What can someone do to stop or prevent their inner critic from making decisions?

  • 14:35 What is human centered leadership and what does it look like?

  • 18:22 How does being vulnerable affect human centered leadership?

  • 23:41 Actionable step to foster human centered leadership in your organization

What is our inner critic, why does it exist, and how can we silence it?

The inner critic is universal. It’s that (inner) voice that whispers, “I’m not enough; I’m not good at it.”

Everyone struggles with their inner critic, which gets louder when we step into leadership roles. And it doesn’t matter if you are a new leader or a seasoned one: Your inner critic will be there.

Our inner critic exists to protect us from failure, vulnerability, and even physical harm.

It comes from a place of safety and has been ingrained in us since childhood. The way we were conditioned as children shapes our inner critic today, particularly when we step into leadership roles.

You can silence your inner critic by taking the time to separate it from your authentic self.

It is not who you are, and it should never drive your actions and decisions.

Get out of your own way and bring out your inner leader.

What can someone do to stop their inner critic from making decisions?

Many times, we already know when our inner critic comes out to influence our decision-making.

And as much as we want to prevent it from happening, we don’t know how to switch lanes and go down the wrong path.

Here’s what you can do to take charge of your inner critic at crucial decision-making moments:

1. Acknowledge, become aware, and identify your inner critic.

Recognize that it exists and has some degree of control over your feelings and actions.

2. Give your inner critic a name and character or personality.

You could make this up or use a name/character from the media or popular culture.

This changes the energy of your inner critic, making it lighter and less oppressive.

3. Identify what situation triggered your inner critic and analyze its motivations.

Is it protecting you from feeling a certain way? Is it preventing you from feeling fear?

4. Ask yourself what your authentic feelings about the situation are.

Compare it with what your inner critic says and check if it’s detrimental to what you really want. Embrace your true feelings and allow yourself to feel vulnerable.

5. Make your decision on your own when your inner critic is no longer in your way.

“The more that we can become present with ourselves. The more we exude presence with others and the more that we can step into our own power and the end, we have to feel that not only in our mind but also in our body.” – Rachel Lipton

What is human centered leadership and what does it look like?

To become more human-centered, you need to put your team at the center of your leadership mindset.

The traditional model of having an all-knowing leader as the sole decision-maker is not sustainable.

  • Develop listening skills

Leaders tend to be charismatic and always jump into the limelight, but there is also immense value when you take a step back to listen and learn how to share power with others.

  • Empower your employees so they are capable of making decisions.

Let go and trust them to deliver the expertise you hired them for.

  • Reassess how you handle conflicts

Encourage “constructive conflict” in tandem with the self-regulation and management of emotions.

  • Have support systems in place to ensure mental health wellness

It will also prevent negative or toxic energy from seeping into your culture.

  • Embrace your vulnerability

It’s not a weakness – it takes a lot of strength to be vulnerable.

  • Have a Growth mindset

Change your mindset to one of growth, not just for your team but also for yourself. Accept that things will change and roll with them. You won’t have all the answers and don’t have to make all the decisions on your own, and that’s ok.

You’ll be more human-centered, your employees will pick up on your genuine intentions, and you’ll soon see positive results in the workplace and your finances.

As leaders in organizations, if we want to have the traditional metrics of success, if we want to hit the numbers, have high-functioning teams, we have to do the inner work and be able to bring others along with us.

How does being vulnerable affect human centered leadership?

Being vulnerable in the workplace does not mean everyone has to share aspects of their personal life. There should still be a boundary between work and personal relationships to avoid dysfunction in your organization.

Being vulnerable at work is:

  • Allowing yourself to be open to uncertainty regarding your business.
  • Your willingness to make mistakes and to have ownership of them.
  • When leaders realize that it’s ok to say the following:
  • “I don’t know all the answers right now, but let me think and get back to you.”
  • “Can you help me figure out the answer?”
  • “Let’s figure it out together.”
  • Staying transparent and open to communication

It is when you hold things less close and involve your team in a perpetual state of collective problem-solving.

“Leaders who are willing to be vulnerable and that have open communication with (their) teams, end up being the leaders who can really move organizations to a whole other level – and are transformational leaders. – Rachel Lipton

Actionable step to foster human centered leadership in your organization

You can immediately take a step back from the hustle and bustle of work and start quietly observing and noticing what’s going on within the landscape of your organization.

Be curious about the conversations around you and their tone, what people are saying, and more.

Bring back that sense of wonder and natural curiosity you had as a child about your business and team.

This will enable you to ask good questions because you are coming from a place of genuinely wanting to know what to provide in terms of support and not from making judgments or assumptions.


  • Your inner critic is that inner voice that likes to criticize and disapprove of your actions.
    • It often says phrases similar to “You shouldn’t have done that” and “Why didn’t you do this or that?” “you’re going to get it wrong” and more.
  • To stop your inner critic from hijacking your decision-making:
    • Identify your inner critic and give it a name or personality.
    • Analyze its motivations and ask yourself what it could be protecting you from.
    • Check your authentic feelings about the situation and decide based on it, not what your inner critic wants to do.
  • A human-centered leader has a growth mindset, listens and supports their employees, is not afraid to feel vulnerable, and embraces change and all the challenges it will bring.
  • Being vulnerable in the business sense is when a leader can openly admit to not having all the answers and is willing to make mistakes and involve their team in collective problem-solving.
  • You can start your journey to human-centered leadership by observing your workplace and how your team interacts with you and each other.
    • Listen to the conversations, pick up on your employees’ fears and hopes, and stay curious, so you can ask the critical questions and provide the support they need.


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About Rachel Lipton, MPP, CPCC, ACC

Founder and CEO

Rachel Lipton Coaching

Rachel Lipton, MPP, CPCC, ACC, is the Founder and CEO of Rachel Lipton Coaching.

A Co-Active Certified Coach, she has a decade of coaching and supporting executives, emerging leaders, and teams to thrive in today’s workplace through her deep understanding of what individuals and organizations need to function effectively on the human level.

Drawn toward intersectional disciplines with broad applications, Rachel has a BA from UC Berkeley with dual degrees in Political Science and Mass Communications and a Master’s in Public Policy from USC. She is a regular contributor to Women on Business.




Contributing Writer in Women on Business:

Other resources mentioned in this episode:

The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection, and Courage by Brene Brown

QBQ! The Question Behind the Question by John G. Miller

About host – Kathy Svetina

Kathy Svetina is a Fractional CFO for growing small businesses with $10M+ in annual revenue.

Clients hire her when they’re unsure about what’s going on in their finances, are stressed out by making financial decisions, or need to structure their finances to keep up with their growth.

She solves their nagging money mysteries and builds a financial structure with a tailored financial strategy. That way they can grow in a financially healthy and sustainable way.

Kathy is based in Chicago, IL and works with clients all over the US.

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