Humanistic Management and Why it is Crucial Now More Than Ever

Humans are naturally social creatures – this is a fact backed up by irrefutable scientific evidence in neurobiology. Socialising has its perks, enabling us to safeguard our individual interests through strength in numbers. 

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors gradually switched to agricultural settlements where various families thrived through teamwork. 

Early men eventually established sophisticated civilizations that harmonised common beliefs and values, converging individual ripples of progress into massive tidal waves of societal advancement. 

Unfortunately, communities soon gravitated towards a separate course aimed at monetary gains and accomplishments. The economy was soon to be prioritised over the innate needs of people. 

This has led to the financial term Homo economicus, a tongue-in-cheek wordplay of our species, Homo sapiens. Under the Homo economicus concept, human beings are motivated in life to do anything it takes to acquire wealth and power for the sake of self-interest. 

However, this causes a misalignment of values among members of society,  and challenges human integrity. Under this scheme, organisations may prize their goals over the needs and desires of partners, shareholders, customers, and employees. 

This arrangement may have worked out under normal circumstances since humans are gifted with the powers of adaptation. However, a sudden crisis, such as the recent pandemic, forces society to re-evaluate what it truly holds dear. 

Humanistic Management in a Nutshell

The humanist school of thought has existed in psychology for decades. It is the polar opposite of behaviourism, which focuses on the mechanical aspects and functions of the brain. 

Humanism surrounds the notion that an individual is beyond a sum of parts; a person is more complex than the synergy of thoughts and values, constantly evolving and adapting according to the environment. 

Humanistic management posits that we’re all motivated in life by four drives – to socialise, acquire, defend, and comprehend.  Hence, the economic model only satisfies a quarter of our needs – leaving us largely unfulfilled. 

For example, 77% of employees access social media while they’re on duty. This indicates the innate need to bond with loved ones, despite their responsibilities of acquiring an income at the workplace. 

Although social media communication may be interpreted as a potentially disruptive practice, it also represents a primary human desire. 

Humanistic Management during Crisis

The COVID-19 crisis has caused a widespread displacement of the global workforce. Employers are constantly seeking innovative ways to maintain operations while keeping workers motivated through hard times.

Humanistic leaders are likely to be some of the first to transition to a remote working arrangement. This leap of faith puts the safety and well-being of employees ahead of the risks in organisational disruptions that may arise from remote arrangements. 

Some humanistic managers may be more willing to approve time-offs or unpaid leave during this period of uncertainty so employees can spend more time with loved ones during the crisis. Again, humanistic leaders are doing this while bearing in mind the risks of organisational disruption. 

The healthcare industry, which lies at the forefront of the crisis, can also benefit greatly from a humanistic approach to its patients.  Dr, Paul B. Rothman, CEO of John Hopkins Medicine, shares, “Caring doctors are better doctors. They practice safer medicine, earn more trust from patients and get them more engaged in their healthcare, leading to better outcomes.”

CliftonStrengths(StrengthsFinder) and Humanism

The CliftonSrengths(StrengthsFinder) is an online assessment that helps identify and optimise the unique talents in each individual. The combination of talent themes defines how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. 

Humanistic management may be bolstered through the CliftonStrengths method, enabling leaders to customise and optimise collaborations according to the uniqueness of the individual. This helps a person recognise and hone the natural inclinations that drive them in life. 

Through the humanistic approach, people aren’t merely units of work,  but torchbearers who illuminate the darkness of tomorrow. 


StrengthsAsia has helped many individual and corporate clients all throughout the region in identifying and maximizing their talents, in driving engagement and increasing motivation in their work and life.

Sign up for our upcoming StrengthsAsia Showcase Workshop to enjoy a world-class facilitated experience to learn how you can optimise performance with Cliftonstrengths engagement strategies. 

A devotee at the altar of language and a celebrant of expression. Laurenzo has written for various SMEs, MNCs, startups and international brands over the last three years. He specializes in topics of psychology, lifestyle, employee management, and digital trends.

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