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Why Prioritizing Human Factors Is A Game Changer In Leadership – Interview With Thomas Gelmi

As a renowned executive coach with over two decades of experience, Thomas Gelmi has seen it all regarding effective leadership and teamwork. His latest claim, “Think Human. Act Human. Be Human,” highlights the importance of human factors in leadership, teamwork, and customer relations. In this interview, Gelmi discusses why these human aspects are the game changer when it comes to employee engagement and loyalty, and why common sense is often not so common in a KPI-driven environment.


Thomas Gelmi, author and speaker

Thomas Gelmi, Executive Coach, Author & Speaker


Can you tell us a bit about your claim, “Think Human. Act Human. Be Human” and why it’s important?


Absolutely. In today’s fast-paced, constantly changing business environment, it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers, the data, and the KPIs. But it’s important to remember that behind those numbers are people. And if we want to create sustainable success, we need to focus on the human factors that drive engagement, trust, and loyalty. That’s why I came up with the claim, “Think Human. Act Human. Be Human.” It’s a simple reminder that we must keep the human element at the centre of everything we do, from how we lead ourselves and our teams to how we interact with our customers.


Why do you think human factors are so important in leadership and teamwork?


Well, think about it: 100 % of all employees and customers of any company are human beings. And people are not robots. We’re emotional beings, and we all have different motivations, fears, and aspirations. If leaders don’t consider these factors, they risk losing the engagement and trust of their teams. It’s not enough to just focus on the numbers and the KPIs. We need to create an environment where people feel valued, heard, and supported. When people feel that they really matter, they’re more likely to be engaged and loyal, to go extra miles and take care of their customer’s needs.


Read more on the WHY: click here.


You mentioned that common sense is often not so common in a KPI-driven environment. Can you elaborate on that?


Of course. I’ve worked with many leaders who are so much under pressure themselves that they only focus on the numbers and forget about the human dimension. They forget that their team members are not just cogs in a machine, but human beings with their own needs, motivations, and concerns. It’s common sense that people want to feel valued and supported. But in a KPI-driven environment, that can often get lost in the shuffle, so that common sense does not necessarily lead to common practice. As a consequence, people will end up doing only the bare minimum, so that they won’t get into trouble, and in the worst case eventually become quiet quitters.


How do you think organizations can foster a culture that values human factors and encourages leaders to prioritize them?


It starts with self-leadership. The leaders of an organization must model the attitudes and behaviours they want to see in their teams. They need to prioritize their own personality development in areas such as emotional intelligence, empathy, and interpersonal communication. They need to show that they value and prioritize the well-being and development of their employees and create an environment where everyone feels safe to share their ideas, concerns, and feedback. And they need to reinforce these values through their communication, decision-making, and recognition practices. Our executive coaching and leadership development programs provide an ideal platform for developing the necessary mindset, attitudes and skills.


What is the biggest obstacle you see in organizations trying to shift their focus to human factors?


One of the biggest obstacles is often the focus on KPIs and metrics as the primary measures of success. While these are important indicators, they can create a tunnel vision that overlooks the intangible human factors critical to employee engagement and customer satisfaction. Leaders who only focus on the numbers risk a lack of engagement and trust among their teams. It's essential to recognize the connection between employee engagement and profitability, to find a balance between the quantitative and qualitative measures, and to prioritize the well-being and development of employees as much as the financial results.


Read more on the connection between trust and profitability: click here.


You’ve coached and trained roughly 10,000 leaders from approximately 90 different countries over the past 20 years. Can you share a success story of a client who implemented your approach to human factors and saw positive results?


Sure, I can give you an example of a client in the tech industry that I worked with. They had been experiencing high turnover and low engagement among their employees and were struggling to meet their goals for customer satisfaction. After implementing our leadership excellence program focused on human facturs such as emotional intelligence, resilience, and effective communication, we saw a significant increase in employee engagement and retention. They also reported higher levels of satisfaction and loyalty among their customers. This was a great example of how focusing on human factors can have a significant impact on the bottom line.


What advice do you have for leaders who want to prioritize human factors but don't know where to start?


It's crucial to lead by example. Therefore, my advice would be to start by prioritizing your own development in areas such as emotional intelligence, empathy, and communication. Ideally, this would include feedback you solicit from your main stakeholders, such as your team. It is essential to be open to feedback and to create a safe space for your employees to share their ideas and concerns. From there, you can begin to create a culture that values human factors by demonstrating and communicating the importance of these skills, recognizing and rewarding them in your employees, and providing opportunities for development and growth in these areas.


How do you typically work with clients to help them achieve their personal or professional goals?


I work with my clients in various formats, from individual 1:1 coaching to comprehensive leadership development programs that include self-paced e-learning as a resource for inspiration. Ultimately, it’s always about changing both mindset and behavior of an adult person. There is no quick fix for this. Instead, it is a development process that begins with self-awareness. It requires new options and alternatives and must finally lead to concrete intentions and actions that must be persistently put into practice over time to build new habits. As a coach and catalyst, my role is to challenge, inspire and help my clients shift from know-how to «do-how», which is the crucial final step where most people fail.


What is your ultimate goal when it comes to promoting human factors in leadership, teamwork, and customer relations?


My ultimate goal is to help create more human-centered organizations that prioritize their employees' well-being and development. My experience shows that when we focus on the human factors, we can create more engaged, loyal, and productive teams and ultimately drive better business results. It's my hope that more leaders will recognize the importance of these skills and prioritize their own development so that we can create a more positive and sustainable future for organizations and society as a whole.


Thank you for sharing these valuable insights with our readers.


For more info, follow Thomas on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and visit his website





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