Leading From The Heart

Leading-Heart-Susan-BagyuraLeadership is not a formula or a program, it’s a human activity that comes from the heart and considers the hearts of others. It’s an attitude, not a routine.” ~Lance Secretan

Even with leaders, loyalty and respect are earned, not given.  It’s the leader’s emotional intelligence skills determining their ability to influence and inspire others.

Here’s a perspective using the head and the heart.  Purpose and mission are important to both the head and heart leaders, but the day-to-day approach is stark in contrast.

When someone leads from the head, there’s an intellectual process that seems quite rational and reasonable.  As long as everything is running smoothly, this approach works well.

However, when there’s stress and tension, then the ego steps in looking for causes and someone to blame for the situation.  Voices and tensions are raised in reaction to the chaos. It’s like the lights were shut off as the darkness spreads throughout affecting anyone involved, even on the periphery.

Once the problem is resolved, outer appearances show that everything is back to normal.  However, a serious toll will have been taken, leaving anger and humiliation to fester in the wake. Things will have been said and done that many will carry as silent wounds.

When someone is allowing the head to rule during those stressful times, as things appear to be going desperately wrong, the ego is like a general involved in a bloody battle.  All civility is tossed aside in favor of getting the job done.  It’s a fear-based environment and everyone dreads being caught in the crossfire.

A heart-centered leader sees the people rather than the task as the number one priority.  This leader will be focused on bringing out the best in people in all circumstances.  Relationships are built based on respect, growth, cooperation and communication.

When leading from the heart, time is set aside to understand what’s important to each individual in terms of their:

  • Career/work
  • Growth
  • Family
  • Health
  • Finances
  • Future aspirations

The loyal union is predicated on helping each other get what they want.

Should a tense situation arise, rather than looking for a culprit, people will respond to the immediate needs while looking for the learning to be gained from the experience.  Instead of making accusations, ways to resolve the situation are found and changes are made to reduce the likelihood of a re-occurrence.

At the core of the heart-centered leadership is preservation of each individual’s value to the team, the organization.  When leaders take the time to view their staff from different perspectives, particularly personally, they will see strengths and commitment beyond their imaginings.

The proof of this is seen in each episode of Undercover Boss.  The CEO and their directors wonder how they can improve performance.  It’s decided the CEO will go undercover.

Always in disguise, the new worker experiences great difficulty doing any of the jobs they are given.  Suddenly at least 2 things become obvious to the boss:

  • The employees are working at maximum capacity
  • Most of the people, despite personal challenges, are performing amazingly well.

It’s only when these leaders have some heartfelt moments with some individuals that they recognize the extraordinary people working in their companies. Later the CEO institutes programs or assistance.

In each case, the CEO found the heart of their organization by engaging with each employee as a peer with something to learn from them.  Judgments were set aside in pursuit of understanding.

Although their individual contribution won’t show up on the spreadsheet, the personal pride of the workers performing to the best of their abilities shone through in the personal interactions with the undercover boss.

Each one ended up in tears when they were finally recognized and appreciated for their value to the organization.  Leading from the heart may take more time, but the outcomes are well worth the effort.

 Leading from the heart may take more time, but the outcomes are well worth the effort. ~Susan Bagyura Tweet this!

What other thoughts do you have about leading from the heart? Please share your thoughts below.

About Susan Bagyura

"Susan Bagyura is the author of the Amazon best-seller The Visionary Leader: How to inspire success from the top down. With 30 years of sales, marketing and entrepreneurial experience, she represents a viewpoint that covers several perspectives: a highly successful career in corporate America, along with having lived on 4 continents and worked with business owners and executives in more than 20 countries.
Susan helps business owners, executives and entrepreneurs to develop the business success mindset and strategies to create the outcomes they desire. The mix ranges from new startups to existing companies that are poised to grow. She’s continually broadening her experience and abilities to skillfully help her clients to quickly and easily reach new heights.
She’s a firm believer that the energy we create in sets the foundation for the outcomes. Susan shows others how to develop their intuition and take inspired actions. This takes the busyness and heaviness out of doing business. By combining great leadership skills with visionary leadership qualities, and simple relationship tips, people can ignite new life into their businesses and profits."

Comments

  1. Hi, Great article about a truly important aspect of leadership. Leading without using the competencies of heart (and gut) is bound to produce less than optimal results. And fascinatingly, the ‘heart’ (and ‘gut’) aspects of this are not just metaphors for emotion and courage.

    Informed by recent Neuroscience findings about the discovery of functional, adaptive and complex neural networks or ‘brains’ in the heart and gut, we’ve completed 2.5 years of behavioral modeling research on the core competencies of these brains and how they communicate and integrate with the head brain. We’ve written about our findings and the models and techniques in our recently published book ‘mBraining’. See http://www.mbraining.com for more info if you are interested.

    So leading with heart and gut is about learning how to tap into the innate wisdom and intelligence of these neural networks in the heart and gut.

    If you’d like to read more about ‘Neuroscience and the three brains of Leadership’, take a read of our free whitepaper: http://www.mbraining.com/mbit-and-leadership

    Also, we’ve done an interview with Dr. David Dotlich, key author of the book Head, heart and guts of leadership. If you would like to listen or download for free, please go to http://www.mbraining.com/interviews-with-remarkable-brains/interview-with-dr-david-dotlich

    and thanks again for a really great article.

  2. Hi Susan ~ any one who thinks that leading with the heart and applying their emotional intelligence to their approach is wimpish or ineffectual in some way clearly isn’t observing, reflecting on and then responding to the human dynamic in their team.

    Like Heidi, I am a passionate believer in IQ, EQ and instinct! Demonstrating humanity in this way has worked for me on so many levels as a developing leader that I’d not wish to do it any other way. Thanks for a great post … and sorry it took me some time to catch up!

    • Thanks John for your comments. I agree with you and particularly like this statement of yours: “any one who thinks that leading with the heart and applying their emotional intelligence to their approach is wimpish or ineffectual in some way clearly isn’t observing, reflecting on and then responding to the human dynamic in their team.”

      So true.

      All the best,
      Susan

  3. krishnamurti J said that intelligence without compassion brings to no harmony.

  4. Why does this behaviour slip by some Leaders? It seems to be the most necessary part of the Leaders toolbox. Maybe it’s because this takes a commitment that some are unwilling to give.

    • Thanks Dave for your thoughts. Leading from the heart does take commitment and focus. For some it may be an unwillingness. For others it could be they are unaware of how to do it or get started and of course, many people will have fears around this. Fear of rejection, being seen as weak and soft, losing control, etc.

      All the best,
      Susan

  5. I think it’s about creating a balance in an equation. As leaders we want the whole person to be at work. We want their intellect to make decisions, we want their skills to do the work and we want their heart to be in their motivations.

    Leadership is setting the example, as much as it is influencing others. If we leave our heart out of our leadership, the equation is imbalanced and the people will recognize it. Our example today becomes our reality of tomorrow.

    Thanks for a great reminder!

  6. Susan,
    I enjoyed the article. Often leaders get so bogged down in leading with their heads, they forget to also lead with their hearts. Great leaders understand the balance!

  7. This is great insight Susan. I think in the past and certainly in the present, the idea of leading from the heart was meant for wimpy pansies that did not have the stomach to make tough decisions. Leading from the heart truly is a connection, that helps us as leaders, help others to achieve an organizations goals. I believe there are times when leading from the head is critical, but with the guidance of the heart and those you have built-up by leading so.

    Thanks,
    Todd

    • Hi Todd,

      Thanks for your comments. I agree with you people had an impression of anyone who spoke of looking within or getting in touch with themselves was categorized as being ‘touchy feely’ and a wimp with no backbone.

      Leading from the heart has a person at the point of what’s in the highest good for all. This isn’t a wimp out. Sometimes the highest good is a lesson, but it’s one that someone needs to go through to evolve to the next level. Avoidance or any other methods do not work.

      There will always been tough decisions to be made and I find, from personal experience and watching others, that the heart-based decisions are more powerful. The brain, which many people think is their mind, is a great sending and receiving station. We have the ability to pick up messages from the ether, other people, media and the heart. Wherever that idea comes from, I advocate checking with the heart to determine if it’s in alignment with your purpose, the greater good and if it will bring profit.

      The more in touch with the heart that someone becomes, the more power they realize they have right within themselves. Personally I always heart check any head decision.

      If anyone wants to know how to get in touch with their heart, connect with me above.

      Thanks again!

      All the best,
      Susan

  8. There is a lot of talk these days about leading from the heart. You have done a brilliant job of discerning what that actually looks like in action. Just terrific!

    One word/notion stands out for me in reading what you wrote. Leading from the heart requires our willingness and ability to connect.

    I appreciate what David Hain said here: “…when we encounter our first institutions we learn that because being human is messy, time consuming and often challenging to deal with properly, it is not welcomed. So I think most of us sublimate it.”

    When we realize that connecting us can take us past the messiness to the core of people’s commitment and greatness, it is much easier to make the leap to understanding how leading from the heart can and does ultimately contribute to the measurable results. Yet even though it cannot be directly measured it’s can most definitely be experienced and felt as those CEO’s in the Undercover Boss discovered.

    BTW I have not watched that show and am now going to so thanks for sharing about it here.

    • Hi Susan,

      Thanks so much for your comments. I like how you have taken what I wrote and blended it with David Hain’s comments. It’s true that we learn early on that putting ourselves out there, being vulnerable, has its risks. Two of our biggest fears have to do with rejection and criticism so it’s a great defense mechanism; however, we lose out on so much.

      The way you articulate it is so beautiful: When we realize that connecting us can take us past the messiness to the core of people’s commitment and greatness, it is much easier to make the leap to understanding how leading from the heart can and does ultimately contribute to the measurable results. Yet even though it cannot be directly measured it’s can most definitely be experienced and felt as those CEO’s in the Undercover Boss discovered.

      Thanks again!

      All the best,
      Susan

  9. Susan- I so agree with your Lance Secretan quote. Leadership is an attitude – so very separate from title. I always stress to my clients that leadership is found at all levels of an organization … the key distinction being the heartfelt attitude. That you for a great post!

    • Hi Susan,

      Thanks for your comments! I’m glad that quote speaks to you too. And the thing about attitude is that we get to choose it.

      We share another idea when it comes to leadership–that being found at all levels. It all starts with self-leadership. We have to be able to lead ourselves, before we can lead others.

      A while back, I was doing a book signing at a local bookstore. While there, someone suggested to a woman that she look at my book. She said that she didn’t need a book on leadership because she didn’t work. Her adolescent daughter standing next to her. This is surprising considering that parenting is one of the greatest leadership challenges. To me, leading from the heart is fundamental in all leadership opportunities; in business and in the home.

      Thanks again!

      All the best,
      Susan

  10. Susan, that was a very beautiful read. I strive to lead from my heart each day, somedays it comes easier than others, no matter the day, it is always rewarding. Thank you!

    • Thanks Susan for your comment and your personal share! I love it that you are listening to your heart.

      For some reason, we are conditioned to use our heads; this is especially true for men (probably politically incorrect to say) and the best part of us is missing. Our deepest connection is at the heart level. Once we connect to our heart personally, it’s easier to connect with others at the heart level. The head type of leader may see this as weakness, soft or being too sentiment because it does make one more vulnerable, authentic and standing out.

      I encourage leaders to listen to their heart as they will be led to take all the actions and decisions that are in the alignment with the highest good.

      All the best,
      Susan

  11. Hello Susan,
    Thank you to remind us all about this very powerfull and very true leadership principle. Reading your contribution I immediately thougt about a cartoon and a quote of General ret. William J. Livsey I like to share with you:
    http://www.vision4dynamics.highpowersites.net/f/Heart_and_mind.pdf

    Kind regards,

    Joan

    • Hi Joan,

      Thanks so much for your comment. I enjoyed the cartoon too.

      Being in a leadership position does make one vulnerable and potentially open to attack, the head/ego will often want to counter or try to outsmart someone. The heart understands that not everything is as it appears at the moment. The heart inspires actions that seem to bend and shape reality into a new, powerful, empowering direction. The heart brings out the best in everything.

      All the best,
      Susan

  12. It seems to me that there is a learning theme emerging here from all the articles to date. Susan, your great quote from Lance Secretan kind of encapsulates it.

    We are born as human beings, not titles, so human-ness is at the profound core of all that we are. Yet when we encounter our first institutions we learn that because being human is messy, time consuming and often challenging to deal with properly, it is not welcomed. So I think most of us sublimate it.

    Yet being at our core, it doesn’t go away. We often rekindle it in our family and intimate connections where we behave more unconditionally and less judgementally. But organisations tend to be highly judgemental and to abhor time wasting, messiness and complexity, all basics of being human. So we learn never to fess up to our human-ness, or to acknowledge it in our colleagues, because it will surely only lead to trouble.

    But we yearn for human connection, and the best leaders at every level re-awaken this in us – for example by being grateful, or behaving humbly in our presence, or acknowledging our existence as a unique person. And we give our trust as a result.

    And gaining, and preserving, and building upon trust (lifetime to gain, seconds to lose) is at the core of what leadership is all about, as evidenced by all the great articles to date.

    Sorry if I’ve gone off on one Susan, but it seems to me that learning and connecting are what this endeavour is all about. Thanks for sparking me off!

    David

    • Hi David,

      Thanks so much for your response. I love getting your take on things and thoroughly enjoy reading your posts.

      I agree wholeheartedly with your comments and believe that we do re-awaken or reconnect with our heart, the truth of everything. Until this happens (and also when disconnect for a period), we will have a new lesson(s) appear giving us the opportunity to make a choice.

      This heart connection is our most basic and important need. This is where we discover our value, worth, self-love and self-acceptance. To find in others, we must first find it in ourselves.

      Thanks again!

      All the best,
      Susan

  13. Great message Susan. I totally agree when you say “When leaders take the time to view their staff from different perspectives, particularly personally, they will see strengths and commitment beyond their imaginings.” This is so true – this approach could change the dynamics of a company on so many levels. We really need to get this message out there!

    • Thanks for your comment Joyce. I agree that taking this approach changes the dynamics of a company. And it creates the butterfly effect. It advances the client relationships and can transform industries. Imagine the potential if everyone used their heart as a guide. Think of industries such as chemical, food, medicine, etc. Imagine the difference if the leaders of those industries used their hearts as guides for their relationships with their employees, customers and citizens of the world as well as for the products that they develop and sell.

      All the best,
      Susan

  14. Great discussion on the difference between the head and the heart style of leadership. I am a fan however of the combination of a head, heart and gut leader. One that has high IQ, EQ, body and vision power.
    My favourite comment you made is that when leaders take the time to view their staff from different perspectives, particularly personally, they will see strengths and commitment beyond their imaginings. What makes our people unique is the sweet spot where we get the highest contribution, value and purpose from – it is up to every leader to help their employees tap into and stay in their sweet spot as much as possible.

    • Hi Heidi,

      Thanks for your comments! When I speak of being heart-centered, I mean it as the starting point. If you look at the Grameen Bank and microlending, it all came to be as an answer to one (heart) question: How can I help a poor person today? This came from a man, Muhammed Yunis, who has a high IQ, using his heart as a guide.

      If he had started using his head, it probably would have told him that it wasn’t possible to make such a difference in the world. The numbers wouldn’t have worked on paper and the idea would have been scrapped. If he had started at the point of chasing the Nobel Peace Prize, he’d probably still be chasing it.

      Once he started doing and checking things from the heart (which some may say is their intuition, instincts, gut), this process provided the inspired ideas, behaviors and actions to take that can be blended then with the IQ, EQ and body. His vision was simple at first and continues to grow.

      Most of us are conditioned to use the head for the answers, but the heart will lead us places that are far more satisfying. I’m certain that Muhammed Yunis is grateful that he followed his heart.

      Thanks again!

      All the best,
      Susan

  15. Susan, thank you for your post. What a great reminder to remember the value that each team member has. This helps us see them as a whole person and not just a an asset to produce results.

  16. Susan – Wonderful post! Leaders that see people as people, and not employee numbers or as a productivity percentage on a spreadsheet really understand the power of heart-based leadership. It’s the core of human-based leadership.

    • Thanks Alli! Nothing is accomplished without people and no one likes being treated like a number. The real test is when tensions are high. Leaders should look at what happens in their organization at those tense times and work to cultivate better relationships. It’s important to inspire success from the top down.

  17. Ah Susan — leading from the heart — the people skills element replaces risky behaviors with successful ones:

    Replaces judgmentalism with understanding
    Blame with solutions
    Insensitivity with appreciation
    Silent expectations with collaborative exchanges

    Great idea to use Undercover Boss for the true stories are living examples of what the heart can accomplish that the mind alone cannot!

    Great post. Thank you!
    Kate

    • Exactly Kate! To some it may seem like a big investment, but it’s an investment that keeps on giving big returns. The 2 biggest motivators are appreciation and recognition. We all want to feel that others recognize our value and appreciate us for our contribution.

      Thanks for your support!
      Susan

    • Thanks Kate! Some leaders may think it’s not worth the time it takes to build relationships, but actually it’s an investment that keeps paying big returns. The 2 biggest motivators are appreciation and recognition — and that doesn’t cost anything.

      Thanks for your input!
      Susan

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