Hugging in the Men’s Room

Corporate life is dead because there’s no heart.

I scrambled for something to do when he said, “My son committed suicide two years ago.” We were standing in the men’s room.

corporate life is dead because there's no heart


The choice:

You’re faced with a choice between what seems right and responding with heart. Distance seems right. Block emotion. Don’t let people see your heart.

I’m learning to lead with heart because people with heart have shown the way.

One corporate leader tears up when talking about his team or customers with health problems. His open heart gives me permission to open my heart.

I had a choice when I heard, “My son committed suicide,”  I could be distant and professional. Or I could respond with heart.

I let myself feel what he felt. I chose heart. My eyes filled with tears. I put my arms around him. Tearfully I whispered, “I’m so sorry this happened.”

It wasn’t until later that I realized it’s awkward to hug a guy in the men’s room. Thankfully, no one walked in.

A hugger:

Bill Campbell (1940 – 2016) was a hugger. Bill was one of the most highly regarded coaches and mentors in Silicon Valley. He worked with the founders of Google, Apple, and many others.

“He hugged just about everyone, and if he couldn’t get close enough, sometimes he’d blow kisses. Right there in the middle of a board meeting or Eric (Schimdt’s) staff meeting.” (Schimdt was Chairman of the Board at Google and after that Chairman of Googles parent company, Alphabet.)

“The reason Bill was able to get away with his hugs-and-curses approach was that all his behavior was rooted in heart: it came from love.” Trillion Dollar Coach

You don’t have to hug or blow kisses. But heart is the channel of influence.

What dangers do you see in leading with heart?

How might leaders show up with heart?

Bonus material:

Leadership is about Emotion, Forbes

Good Leaders get Emotional, HBR

How do you really feel? Effect of leaders’ perceived emotional sincerity on followers’ trust, Science Direct (Abstract)