Human Beings First – Practices for Empathetic, Expressive Leadership

Paul E. Wolfe

Publisher: Publish Your Purpose Pages: 121 Price: (hardcover) $31.95 ISBN: 9798887970172 Reviewed: June, 2024 Author Website: Visit »

“What if leaders and companies approached their roles from the perspective that we’re all human beings first?” That’s the question author Paul Wolfe poses in this brief book.

An experienced Human Resources (HR) professional who has formerly worked at Indeed, Condé Nast, and Match.com, Wolfe concentrates on the human side of business, proposing eight practices for empathetic leadership; for example, “Create psychological safety” and “Have a clear mission and purpose buy-in.” Wolfe counsels leaders to be more vulnerable and transparent and to lead by example by bringing their full humanity to work.

Wolfe wrote his book in the shadow of the pandemic. He holds that the workplace will never return to the pre-pandemic norm. A “new normal” will emerge characterized by work-life integration and a leadership style that allows employees to be their complete selves. At the conclusion of each chapter (except one), Wolfe invites a contributor to provide an essay amplifying that chapter’s themes.

Wolfe’s style is warm and approachable, reflecting his passion and experience. However, his book is long on inspiring generalities and anecdotes but short on “how to.”

Wolfe’s eight practices are actually principles. One of his collaborators, Greg Morley, does the “how to” piece well at the end of the chapter on listening by providing clear instructions on how to become a better listener. A similar summary of the main points at the end of each chapter, with some practical steps for applying Wolfe’s principles, would have made his book more useful to business leaders, who tend to be MBAs or come from backgrounds in specialties such as finance or marketing; people from these disciplines aren’t typically encouraged to put human beings first, so more guidance would have been helpful.

In sum, senior HR leaders who are already familiar with the landscape Wolfe traverses may benefit from this quick read. But those less familiar with the HR discipline might struggle to apply the principles Wolfe shares.

Author's Current Residence
Mahopac, New York
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