“The deeper your relationship with others, the more effective will be your leadership. People will not follow you if they do not trust you, and before someone will lend you a hand, you must first touch their heart." - Robin Sharma
Recently I was asked about what someone referred to as a “new” leadership technique. She asked whether I had heard of leading through the heart. Off the top of my head, I wasn’t quite sure what her interpretation was, and so I listened and decided to do some research.
What I learned is that leading through the heart is the very type of leadership and strength that I advocate with all of my coaching clients and that I talk about in many different ways and in diffuse contexts throughout my executive and life coaching practice. What leading with your heart means is going with your gut and using your own personal vision, values and strengths to put you in touch with yourself and to provide guidance to others. It means having a strong inner spirit and believing in yourself and your ability to help others and build a team.
So, in light of my friend’s question, I decided there’s no better time than now to reiterate some of the basic truths of good leadership. Today I am going to talk about those truths and how they work when someone applies their heart and soul to success.
Leading from your heart doesn’t mean that someone is a sympathetic person who succumbs when someone cries from frustration. It certainly doesn’t refer to a leader who lets others off the hook because they had a bad day. And it doesn’t mean that they pick up the slack for others because they feel bad. What it actually means is trusting your knowledge and insight and having high emotional intelligence.
Those who lead from the heart know themselves well. They have studied their own human nature and understand what they need to do to take their personal needs out of the equation so that their actions engender the most success. They also know to stay neutral when their buttons are getting pushed. Having learned about and applied their knowledge to their own actions and ways of doing business, successful leaders study the natures of those around them. In short, they have developed their Emotional Intelligence (EI) and are always looking to use that knowledge to lead and reach success. When you manifest leadership from your heart or essence, you are taking what you know best and applying it to what I would call the “highest good of all concerned”.
A leader who can empathize with others, just like a good parent, will have better success. If you heart allows you to feel and discern the needs of others, then you can best communicate with them on their level and in ways that they understand and can relate to.
Where does this line of thinking take us logically? Back to my favorite tool of all: Emotional Intelligence. EI refers to your emotional maturity and to how in touch you are with yourself and others. EI is a combination of what you feel, what you know and what you learn. The healthiest, and thus most successful and fulfilling use of your EI in a leadership role, allows you to assess a situation, feel in your gut what you need to do and then take the action to bring about a positive and winning conclusion.
A leader does not put himself or herself first. A leader is not looking to dominate or showcase. A leader does not have to use force or impose will. A leader doesn’t look at a situation with limited vision or microscopic focus. A leader’s ego does not interfere.
Rather, a true leader succeeds by having a wide open panoramic vision. He or she can absorb the ideas, influences, suggestions and even avenues used by others to get to a meaningful objective. S/he views leadership as more than just an intellectual exercise. S/he uses her heart, gut and lifelong learning. Intuition may play a role as does being in touch with the reality of situations. A leader also feels a sense of responsibility and uses all of her senses to achieve her goals as well as those of the organization while building and supporting the individuals who are part of her team.
One of the many things I wish for each of you in this new year is to become the kind of leader that I work so hard in my practice to develop. Be kind to yourself and others. Inspire others and recognize their strengths. Use everyone’s assets to the advantage of the greater good. Strive to bring out the best in everyone. Give your support and don’t let it become unstable; rather, remain a cornerstone on whom everyone can rely on to be steady and strong. When you lead, be mindful. Lead from your heart and you will inspire and find success.