Leading With the Heart

So much of what is written about leadership is "in the head," meaning that the competencies highlighted include planning, organizing, strategizing, decision making, problem solving, analyzing, improving, and the like. All good and useful to be sure.

But really leading effectively involves being "in the heart" too. So here are some additional competencies that the well balanced leader will take the time to ponder and develop.

Helping: In my leadership classes, I always ask the participants to tell stories about leaders they admire. I encourage them to say what makes these leaders so memorable and effective. One answer that comes up time after time is, Leaders that help. Leaders that are there for you. That you can count on. That pitch in and get their hands dirty. Who back you, and go to bat for you.

Engaging: We often say that the best leaders are ones who "lead by their example." But what example are we talking about? What would be included in this? One suggestion I'd offer is Leaders that engage. Just as the word implies, such a leader is "in gear" with his job, his mission, his sense of purpose, and his organization. This leader's palpable engagement will surely influence his followers to get engaged too.

Appreciating: Leading with the heart involves some very basic human emotions, such as appreciating others for who they are and what they bring to the job, to the team, and to the organization. Leaders that appreciate each person create a positive, affirming environment where people feel good about themselves.

Recognizing: In much the same spirit as appreciating, Leaders that recognize make people feel good about themselves and inspire people to give more of themselves.

Teaching: Another characteristic of effective leaders that is often mentioned by the participants in my leadership classes is Leaders that teach. Leaders that take the time to help you grow and become more knowledgeable, more capable, and more valuable.

Leadership involves not only using our heads, but leading with our hearts too.

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Tuesday November 8, 2011


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