Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



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True Leaders Know That Workers are Humans

Dear Reader,

Recent conversations and the headlines that take center stage in the news have surfaced a burgeoning need! And that is the need to know what truly defines a leader.
Now, it might occur to you that this need was as relevant three decades ago as it is today! And if you thought so, you are right. Because making an impact and being a part of a worthy cause is a fundamental human desire. And, for an employee, understanding how their organization defines leadership is akin to receiving a manual on their first day titled: How to be successful at this company!
And who doesn’t want that??

But unfortunately, many would be hard-pressed to receive such a manual from an organization. And the endless pursuit for an answer to this all-important question leaves many employees scurrying around as they navigate their careers. But while organizations might not have a ready-made and consistent definition of leadership, they can allay their workers’ concerns by answering a related question: What do we expect from a true leader, and what does one need to know to meet those expectations?
And this is a worthy question!


To start, let us explore a subject that applies to all of us. – Humanity!

Acknowledging that we are all human is a fitting place to start because we each have a unique mix of strengths and weaknesses, and true leaders know this. And this awareness enables them to acknowledge that every individual has personal and professional dreams, goals, and pursuits. Furthermore, it helps them realize that expecting anyone to parse their lives and selves into working vs. living is unrealistic!

To further illustrate this, let me share an experience… A couple of weeks ago, I went to the gym on a Monday morning! My gym opens at 5 am, and I was in the parking lot at 4:37 am. As I waited in my car for the gym to open, two guys parked their cars several parking spaces from mine and got out of their vehicles. As they walked toward the building, one of the men began narrating a story in a loud and frustrated tone. – He was recounting an experience with his manager the week before when his manager communicated expectations that he deemed unfair. And what stood out most to me were the words he used to communicate his frustration. He said: I am not the manager. He is! He has the data. So why is he asking me to do work that he should do? He needs to figure it out. I am not doing it. I am sick of it!

As I listened to this man relay his story of frustration about an event that happened at work the week prior, I couldn’t help but wonder how much time and energy he had spent mulling over his work frustrations over the weekend. And if he would continue to revisit his concerns as he drove to the office that morning after he left the gym. It seemed a problem in the workplace that occurred several days prior had permeated his thoughts and emotions during the weekend – during his private time!

And this underscores the importance of leaders viewing every worker as a human being with personal and professional needs, not as two distinct selves. – We cannot separate ourselves and our lives into working versus living because we each live in one body as we navigate an array of personal and professional pursuits. Indeed, true leaders know that those they work with are not just workers. – They are human beings!

And while they expect them to maintain high standards at work and in how they behave in the workplace, they realize that expecting workers to separate themselves into working vs. living is unrealistic. Because they know that what happens personally affects our professional output, and what happens in the workplace impacts our personal lives. Therefore rather than expecting workers to separate their lives into neatly compartmentalized personal and professional boxes, true leaders allow those they work with to be authentic. – And they do so by acknowledging their needs, allowing them space to enjoy their accomplishments, process their frustrations, and granting them the flexibility to balance their personal and professional pursuits.

Reflect and Imagine

What could you do this week to enable those you work with know that you value them as humans? Perhaps organize a fun coffee/ tea break with co-workers or share a goofy personal story from your childhood? – It’s worth remembering that humor is a human connector and a tension diffuser. And when a leader expresses humor, it has a powerful impact on others!

For you and to you,




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