Leading With Your Heart and Your Head

RL02-24-2015Try to envision for a moment two different hiring scenarios. First, you’re looking to hire a new CEO for a company that needs to quickly see growth, productivity, and profits in order to stay in business. What kind of leader would you automatically gravitate toward? Now, consider a search to hire your own supervisor – the person who will be responsible for leading you and your team on a daily basis. What type of person would you want to fill this position?

It would be normal if you imagined two very different leaders – the first one being smart, analytical, and maybe even a little demanding, and the second one being more personable, friendly, and trustworthy. That would fit into the customary train of thought about effective leaders. As an article from Fast Company explains, “Traditional leadership theory assures us the best managers are the brainiest and most analytical—intentionally insulated from emotions.” And, while an individual usually hopes for a nice boss, overall “the idea of bringing the heart into workplace leadership widely is seen as being a soft and weak approach that inherently undermines productivity and profitability.”

Heart ≠ Poor Leader
But that theory is being proven wrong. The same Fast Company article went on to say that “according to research conducted by the Institute of HeartMath, organizations that will endure and even thrive will be those that reject flat-earth attitudes about heart and leadership, and accept that both feelings and emotions play an enormous role in driving employee (human) behavior.” A Huffington Post article agrees, proposing that emerging leaders “are being called forward to a more inclusive form of leadership … from knowledge based leadership towards wisdom-based leadership.” And that wisdom-based leadership is actually the culmination of the head and heart.

Heart + Head = Wisdom
So, what exactly does wise leadership look like? It’s using your whole person – head and heart – in the decision-making process. It’s considering how giving into the employee demand for flextime or telecommuting could affect the company’s effectiveness and culture. It’s considering how layoffs could impact the overall morale, engagement, and loyalty of workers. Really, it’s just remembering that, in today’s business world, your biggest asset is your talent. And the individuals that make up your company’s talent don’t just represent brainpower or manpower, they are also people with emotions.

Inc. describes it like this: “What is needed in business today is a new perspective, one that draws from the world’s collective and ancient wisdom to get to the most basic and important of human values … the values that come from the heart, not from the head.”  And, ultimately, it’s leadership combining head and heart that unleashes “the full power and creativity of employee teams, superior customer service, strengthened client relations, and closer and more productive relationships with vendors and suppliers.”

When it comes to the right type of leadership needed today, the answer is no longer either/or. Instead, it’s now both – both head and heart are needed to lead effectively. In order to continue to grow personally and professionally, as well as grow their businesses, leaders are now tasked with stepping up to the plate, realizing what’s truly best for everyone involved, and making the decision to lead with their whole person, giving equal value to reason and feeling.

Do you take a more emotional or analytical approach to leading your team? Have you had to adjust your style to incorporate one or the other? Let us know in the comments section below.

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