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Being a Human 'Being' Vs a Human 'Doing': Leadership in the Modern World

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April 25, 2024
CEO, Founder & Executive Coach
3 min read
Article: 'quiet quitting' in workplaces: employees disengage, hurt productivity. Leaders need open communication, work-life balance.

Amid a rapidly progressing world where we’re often measured by our achievements, productivity, and efficiency, the essence of what it means to truly 'be' can get lost.

We are undeniably human beings, but many of us have transitioned to becoming human doings.

It's time to revisit what it means to 'be' and how leaders can pave the way in this transformation.

1. Understanding the Human 'Being' vs. the Human 'Doing'

The core distinction between a human 'being' and a human 'doing' is rooted in perspective. A human 'doing' focuses on actions, tasks, goals, and tangible accomplishments. Life becomes a checklist of things to be achieved. On the other hand, a human 'being' is someone who values presence, experiences, relationships, emotions, and the journey itself rather than just the end goals.

Being in the 'doing' mode isn't inherently negative. It's associated with productivity, achievement, and ambition. However, when it becomes our sole focus, we might lose sight of our inner selves, our emotions, and the richness of our human experience.

2. The Leadership Imperative: Encouraging 'Being'

Leaders play a pivotal role in shaping the culture of an organisation or community. Here's how they can inspire and support those they lead to embrace the human 'being' ethos:

a) Cultivate a Culture of Mindfulness: Mindfulness involves staying present and fully engaging with the now. It's about appreciating the moment, not just as a means to an end. Leaders can promote this by encouraging breaks, fostering reflective environments, and even incorporating meditation or other mindfulness exercises into routines.

b) Value the Individual Beyond the Task: Leaders can ensure they see and treat their team members as more than cogs in a machine. This means understanding and valuing the diverse experiences, aspirations, and emotions of each individual.

c) Prioritise Well-being: The well-being of an individual goes beyond just physical health. Emotional, mental, and spiritual health are equally crucial. By focusing on holistic wellness, leaders can ensure that the people they lead aren’t just doing tasks but are thriving in all facets of their lives.

d) Foster Connection: Human beings thrive on connection. Leaders can promote environments where individuals connect deeply with one another, not just on a professional level but also on a personal, human level.

e) Celebrate the Journey: While it's essential to have goals and visions, the journey towards these goals is just as valuable. Leaders can ensure that they don't just celebrate achievements but also the learning, growth, and experiences that occur along the way.

3. The Benefits of Being a Human 'Being'

By emphasising the 'being' aspect of humanity, leaders can unlock a multitude of benefits:

  • Enhanced Creativity: When individuals are present and connected to their inner selves, they are more likely to think outside the box and develop innovative solutions.
  • Reduced Burnout: A relentless focus on 'doing' can lead to exhaustion and burnout. By promoting a balance between 'being' and 'doing', leaders can ensure sustainability and longevity in efforts.
  • Authentic Relationships: When we operate from a place of 'being', our relationships are more profound, genuine, and fulfilling.
  • Personal Fulfillment: Beyond organisational benefits, individuals who embrace their human 'being' side report higher levels of satisfaction, happiness, and fulfilment.


The journey from being a human 'doing' to a human 'being' isn't about negating ambition or goals. It's about finding a balance where we value our humanity as much as, if not more than, our productivity. Leaders have the unique privilege and responsibility to guide this shift. By fostering environments that value the essence of 'being', leaders can pave the way for more prosperous, more fulfilling experiences for themselves and those they lead.