In the last episode of BrainFruits, I sit down with Meiyi Cheng to discuss what it takes to develop a still mind and how living and leading from the heart can bring the change you want to bring about.
This has led me to write a short blog about what it takes to tap into the power of the heart to develop the courage, determination and compassion to become a great leader. While this blog focuses on a leadership, this post is equally relevant for anyone who intends to become better at leading themselves.
One of my favourite quotes from Brene Brown states:
“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor—the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant ‘To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.’ Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences—good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as ‘ordinary courage.'”
I truly believe that the ability to speaking from our hearts about our truth makes the difference between good and great leaders. To be a great leader, one must master the skill of leading from the heart. Being emotionally self-aware and using emotion to motivate makes for highly effective leaders who possess an ability to move through complex situations, adjusting to human need. Here is how you too can learn the ropes of great and effective leadership:
Practice “conscious leadership.” Conscious leadership means realizing the full impact that your words and actions have on your leadership team. Consciously balance composure and communicate the expectation (here is a great book recommendation to develop a conscious leadership style)
Emphasize relationship-building and communication. All leadership skills live under these two grandiose ideas. Be deliberate about relationships with your teams. Leadership is personal. Understand individuals' motivations and needs. They will appreciate your effort and return it two-fold. With respect to communication, clarity, and repetition rules. In his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, author Daniel Khaneman explained: "A sentence that is printed in a clear font, or has been repeated, or has been primed, will be fluently processed with cognitive ease." If you want people to understand your vision and expectations, then be clear and repetitive.
Demonstrate humility and authenticity to your team. You will find that this will open conversations, and complex issues can be vigorously attacked as ideas multiply.
Use the teams’ collective talents. To embrace your team's talents, engage them by challenging them. For example, say, "I do not have the answer, so I am counting on you to get us to one.” Ask open-ended, quality questions during meetings to create dialogue and gain buy-in from others. Make the team accountable to one another. Peer accountability is a powerful motivator, but it can be elusive. Get your people to make agreements with one another in the group setting. They will not want to let one another down.
Strive for a common, higher purpose for the company. High-performing groups thrive on a purpose that is greater than the business itself. Employees want to know why their role is important to the company. Last, give your employees an outlet to pursue their greater purpose. This helps keep them engaged in their work.
Encourage the leadership team to have its own common purpose as well. This is different from the company’s purpose and is often overlooked. The leadership team's common purpose addresses behaviour and operating values during adverse situations. Create an atmosphere of trust and unity through adverse times. Consistently let the team know that you have their backs. If they trust this about you, then they will trust one another in the same way.
Separate task from emotion. Adversity creates fear. People want to eliminate the fear but might do so at the expense of a good solution. Show confidence and composure through adversity. Your team will follow suit.
You can transformed from “command-and-control” to intuitive, authentic, and compassionate. In today’s complex world, leading from the heart will take your company or division further than you thought possible. Those who make the move from head to heart become highly effective leaders and individuals.
Recommendations for further reading
Talk “Leading from the Heart” by Advaitananda Stoian: Trailer: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6887784578380029952 Complete talk: https://courses.quantumtransformation.dk/leadership-heart
“The Fascinating Relationship Between the Heart and Brain” by HeartMath Institute https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhxjXduD8qw
The Fountain (2006) movie Movie: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0414993/