15 Ways to Lead with Heart
Heartless leaders are deformed beasts who excuse abuse in the name of results. But, the tough aspects of leadership make having heart hard.
Open hearts feel pain that closed hearts don’t.
Wise leaders learn that heart is essential, especially while doing the tough stuff.
Those who lead with heart change lives.
The longer I lead the more I respect leaders with heart. Pushing for results is ordinary in leadership. But, pushing for results and having heart at the same time make leaders extraordinary.
The essence of heart is commitment to connect on a human level.
Leaders with heart:
- Say what they really think. Posturing reflects a closed heart.
- Remain predictable. Practice the ritual of touching base with teammates in the morning, for example.
- Reject the trappings of position. They won’t connect with you when you seem high and mighty.
- Live by values more than results.
- Create safe environments. Beastly leaders use fear to coerce compliance.
- Expose their own weaknesses that strengthen connection, but don’t foster entitlement or indulgence. Be “one of” not “one above.”
- Show interest in teammate’s family members. You connect with others by showing interest in their children, for example.
- Get out of your office.
- Honor the skills, passions, and strengths of others. Let others shine.
- Express tenderness toward others even as you expect excellence from them.
- Admit their own mistakes.
- Ask forgiveness for offenses.
- Stand with people who screw up.
- Express gratitude.
- Support the development of teammates and teams.
The thing that makes a leader remarkable isn’t their ability to achieve results. It’s their ability to achieve results with heart.
All heart without results is weak. All results without heart is ugly.
How can leaders have heart?
What prevents leaders from leading with heart?
This is the “H” installment of the Dictionary for Leaders series. See the list of leadership H’s on Facebook.
Leaders who have not yet found a balance within themselves will also fail at finding a balance between heart and results. It’s exactly why my #1 priority right now is to focus on making my morning meditation a solid habit so that I’m fully aware of my own thoughts and feelings and can be fully present for others.
Thanks James. It’s wonderful that getting in touch with our own thoughts and feelings enables us to connect with others. Great add!
Great post Dan. #4 live by values more than results is my favorite and I have found that leading by values rather than results most often brings the best results.
Dan, We as leaders need to override the heart even if it hurts. We know from experience that leading with the heart will and can humbly get one in trouble at times. Look at your experience and don’t hurry the heart, allow the brain to do it’s job with the knowledge you have deep inside knowing the heart could wreak havoc in the end should you follow your heart and not your brain.
Thanks Tim. I know that you are a man with heart. So coming from you, I appreciate you bringing an alternative view.
I hope that we can lead with both.
But, when heart leads to lack of resolve to deal with tough issues, for example, things end poorly.
Yes my lifetime has often been too much heart and trust, when in comes to tough issues we tend to go with our gut/heart, sometimes you win sometimes we sink.
Your comment has heart!
What is a leader without both heart and results?
A monster or a weakling… depending on what is missing. What do you think?
I agree that leaders live by values more than results. These values should justify the results. I also agree that all the result without heart is ugly. It means there has to be right means to get results. Results are important but we need to question the criteria. In the organisations, as long as people achieve targets, they justify their means. Even organisations keep supporting all the means that meet objectives. But in case of something goes wrong, then organisations become alert. It starts finding out means used to achieve goal. It also diagnose where people follow the guidelines properly or not. That time, it is the individual who become victim and not the organisations.
So, it is important to analyse the long-run impact of mean.s. If leaders do that, we can say,they have heart. It may happen that they may be questioned for not achieving target in short run, but later they can prove better. When leaders focus on end, they stop leading with heart. When they compare with others and deviate their way, they become ugly. And that is the time, when they achieve result without heart which is ugly.
Thanks Dr. Gupta. YOur insight that leaders with heart take the long-term view is so powerful and challenging.
Lead with humility and empathy. This is key in leading with the heart. Leading with no heart, cut throat, those are the bounces, it had to be down, you are the weakest link, get ‘er done no matter who you have to bowl over, are the seemingly ubiquitous mantras in the western society. Is it no wonder that society struggles so hard when they focus on their own immediate needs and heartlessly exclude those who get in their way. Leading with a heart may not get you the quickest win or success but anything you gain positively by leading with a heart will endure longer after those quick wins are long forgotten.
Thanks Michael. Your comment, along with all the other great comments on this post, remind me of one of the main reason I love writing this blog.
Perhaps the most important reason our youth of today are not well prepared for life is that we do not instill the resolve to make good timely decisions and follow through, and we fail to help develop the heart to stand by convictions, beliefs, and ideals. Instead we teach them to make their boss happy if they want the job, which may often mean compromising oneself. Years down the road, they will look back and be unhappy with their life, or justify it by the stuff they’ve accumulated, but there won’t be joy.
Perhaps if we took the lead and taught them the value of conviction, the importance of living by your word and values, and how the most important muscle really is the human heart, we could see a difference. It is on us, not them, to help them down the right direction.
Thanks John. You bring up the power of courageous authenticity. It can be easy to fall into the trap of pleasing everyone else and losing ourselves in the process.
Great points…leading from the heart is true, authentic leadership. Your points are in line with Mark Miller’s book – The Heart of Leadership. He uses the five letters of HEART to drive home his points.
– Hunger for wisdom – be open / connect / network
– Expect the best – be optimistic / take risks / be vulnerable
– Accept responsibility – take ownership / be accountable / drive actions
– Resonate with courage – keep growing / move toward opportunities
– Think others first – needs of others / drive teams / build relationships
Thanks Paul. I’m glad you mentioned Mark’s great book, “The Heart of Leadership.” Mark is a leader who reflects these ideas.
Dan, these were words I needed to hear. Thank you.
Thanks Jim. Best for the journey.
one more from your strong armoury, Great ,Dan ,Good wishes for your great sharing
The root of the word courage is heart. I love this post. Thanks Dan.
Thanks Janine. It takes courage to have heart and having heart gives courage. 🙂
Great post! It feels nice to read about leadership that is compassionate and gentle, instead of just the regular “hard-working, focused and careless” style.
Thanks Jahnavi. It takes more than hard work to get there.
Hi Dan, Im from Indonesia and thanks for ur trip to be a leader because im obsessed to be a leader
Thanks winny. Best wishes for the journey.
Live. Leading. Be!
TWO HAIKUS – BE LOVE.
BE – the other way around it does not work!
I am what I create.
Knowledge mastered thoughts – literally manifested reality!
BE – nothing is more liberating than this love to be & joy.
Nothing is more binding than the consciousness of these freedom.
How can you otherwise want to choose!
LEADING BY HEART. THATS YOUR REAL NATURE. (?)
I realise – more and more the experience we are looking for
is very close – inside -is- outside. heartbeat by heartbeat.
It´s just like far away (close to) – than one real thought is.
We can decide with heart – or not.
Choose and be aware.
Each exercise is a way getting closer to be love.
If not – you have a second chance, to come back and have new experience – to think and feel this emotions, to act in these sence, to create love again. To be love is the great goal – this reality is fact.
To be a creator (believe) means leading inclusively! <3
If we´re us sure – we must not try. But who, would love this divine perfection?
Who could believe it? Who can honor it? Without to have one doubt anymore,
does life makes sence? Yes and No.
Without to have one doubt anymore, does life makes sence? Yes and No.
The soul – is one aspect – the mind and heart (body) is our spaceshuttle,
of the divine being.
BE ❤ We are being beings.
Experiences reflect thoughts.
The divine manifests the intention of the soul.
The soul will always have their own fascination and we will continue to want to have experiences that we conjure up new worlds of our new thoughts. With or without physicality – nice it would be if love finds herself in it – like a magic mirror and the living is self-explained.
Experiences with love – make you happier .-)
Joy is. Beate
Thanks Beate. I don’t know what to say except thanks for joining in today.
“Heartless leaders are deformed beasts who excuse abuse”…perhaps Dan…however, the issue isn’t so much that they are heartless, as that’s a mere symptom of most psychopathy. The reason they are so “deformed” is that they lack wholeness, and wholeness is about integrity. Hence, they are denatured. Those who are not whole lack boundaries and become victims or they are the ones who are self centered and suffer from extreme narcissism. On either end of this spectrum of lack, what’s missing is more than heart; it’s an issue of maturity, or the lack there of. As one enters what should be adulthood, those who refuse to do the real work to enter into genuine maturity will never be whole. At best, they are stunted and this does produce an ugly (sometimes indelible) deformity, indeed.
Thanks Carol. It’s a delight to read your thoughts and see how you tease out the idea of deformed, putting it in a new frame. I makes sense that deformity describes a symptom and not a root.
We do not talk about the essential concept of heart in leadership often enough, but when we do, I hope we are half as articulate as Dan Rockwell …
Thanks for you kindness John! You comment feels like heart.
Be on of , not one obove. Such a great line!
Thanks Steve. Best wishes
I wish my employers have a heart, working for the government is all based on almighty bucks. Sigh.
Thanks seeker. It would be great if all of us embraced the idea of having heart.