The greatest business lessons we can learn always involve treating one another with respect and kindness.
When a devastating magnitude 7.9 earthquake hit Sichuan, China in May 2008, my late father Dr. Rongxiang Xu was the first person to assemble a team of medical professionals and head into the disaster zone.
These heroic actions didn’t surprise me in the least.
Dr. Xu devoted his entire life and career to helping other human beings. He made great advancements in the world of organ regeneration that have improved the lives of people everywhere. He was also a successful businessman. He passed these human-centric values down to me and countless others before he passed away.
Human centricity isn’t just about saving or improving the lives of those in turmoil; it’s about broadly considering the overall value of human life. When leaders employ this line of thinking, their businesses become more sustainable, they’re more likely to attract loyal followers, and their bottom lines grow exponentially.
Here are the five most important humanistic leadership qualities I learned from Dr. Xu:
- Selflessness:Throughout the ’90s, Dr. Xu devoted the bulk of his research toward innovating burn medicine. He sometimes even used himself as a lab rat during his experiments and tested these skin regenerative techniques on his own body. He recruited experts from around the world to join his mission and travelled with them to Thailand to treat countless burn victims. Later in his career, he became a keynote speaker, educating the next generation of doctors as they ascended through the ranks. A lifelong pursuit of selfless causes provides infinite rewards and makes the world a better place.
- Remembering your roots:One of the reasons Dr. Xu managed to create such a great legacy was that he stayed loyal to his heritage. He was born in a poor Chinese town and, no matter what he was doing, he always remembered to include his homeland’s development in his business plans. I have preserved this loyalty by keeping our factory firmly rooted in that small town even though a move elsewhere might make more sense for our bottom line. Preserving your company’s family ethos is one of the most important things you can do as a business leader.
- A common, worldly outlook:Even with extreme loyalty to his homeland, Dr. Xu taught me that human connection and care has no boundaries. His medical advancements and humanitarian efforts weren’t geared toward just one demographic; they were solutions that helped common people, regardless of their location, financial situation or beliefs. Human-centric leadership reaches across borders and cultures and can impact even the most war-torn, devastated communities.
- Spreading inspiration:Xu showed me that a human-centric mindset becomes even more valuable when you inspire others to follow your lead. Leaders should establish and preach a set of values that promote and sustain these principles. By educating and inspiring your staff, you’ll soon notice that every business decision will be made with human value in mind. This system could be what propels and sustains your company’s success into the future.
- Looking after your employees:After directing the rescue activities in Sichuan for several days, Dr. Xu noticed that his doctors were overloaded and exhausted and barely had time to sleep. He reported these conditions to the state government and organized another much larger team of Chinese wound experts to join them in Sichuan. This provided much-needed relief, saved even more lives, and ensured the health and wellbeing of his team.
A company is only as strong as the bonds between its team members, and human centricity depends on leaders displaying a deep and true desire to help and support their staff. Purely profit-driven leadership only sees value in the richest consumers. This narrow-minded, shortsighted approach fails to speak to the bigger picture, and leaders with this mindset are missing out on a wide world of opportunity.
Real human-centric leadership goes beyond product and profit and dives into the heart of human connection. My father embodied this to his core and left behind an incredible legacy of empowered human-centric leaders.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
Image credit: CC by Richard Foster.