This month I continue on the Effortless Leadership series with the next pillar, Lead from the Heart. As a leader, although we would like to portray ourselves as the one with all the logical, technical and strategic answers, what we also need to remember is that leadership also comes from the heart. To become an effortless leader, we have to combine logic with heartfelt decisions.
There are three different aspects I wish to talk about. Firstly, it is about making decisions based on the signals from the heart. Secondly, it is about touching base with your heart-felt values, both in business and as an individual. Thirdly, it is about remembering that business relationships require you to feel a connection and that comes from the heart, not the head.
Let’s start on the first one which places your heart at the centre of decision perhaps even more than your logical brain. I say this because research and science explain that the heart as an organ meets the definition of a brain because it has neurotransmitters that send and receive signals. Those signals work in conjunction with your brain and the neurological network to allow your body and mind to function in a manner that is optimal for peak performance and decision making. Hence the phrase “follow your heart” which is not just a philosophical phrase but also a scientific one. The heart sends out impulses which allow you to feel whether a decision is right or wrong. This emphasises the importance of being in tune with what your heart is telling you. Therefore when you are choosing between different options, your heart together with the brain will give you the correct signal. And you will make more effective and efficient decisions when you practice how to feel this consciously. In fact, the head, the heart and the gut function as a triad in your decision making. But refer to the previous pillar on healthy food, which discusses the importance of the gut to decision making.
The second element I talk about is being in touch with your heart as the place where your values lie. You need to understand what you value the most – loyalty, freedom, love, or maybe significance. And also what do you value as a business? Excellence, innovation, quality etc. This notion then translates into your mission statement and who you create your brand and identity. Being clear and communicating from your personal and business values is most respected, most understood and most inspiring. Another way of looking at it is Simon Sinek’s way of describing communications through “knowing your why”. Your “why” as a business, individual or as a leader comes from your heart. Once you tap into that space, you can be more inspiring, compassionate and connected as a communicator. You will become influential as a business brand or as an individual, and you’ll find that you attract opportunity, customers, quality staff and followers more easily.
The last element of this pillar is your ability to bring in the heart in your communications. This is demonstrated by being empathetic and using your emotional intelligence effectively in your communications. When you are dealing with your staff, clients or partners you want to bring in the heart to understand where they are coming from and listen to what their values are. Practice listening with your heart (not your head/ego) to what they want and how they feel. Through empathy, you will receive signals of what the other party is trying to communicate to you, beyond logic, and into feeling. This will then enable you to form better connections and outcomes from all involved. As a leader, those genuine connections at a human level motivate people to go the extra mile for you. Another element here is that effective leadership does not equal becoming unemotional. An effortless leader knows how to manage their emotions and express them through body language and words that create a sense of openness and honesty. That brings your team together and empowers them to contribute to your business growth and mission.
Leading from the heart helps you build better connections with your team and staff, and better understand and connect with your brand. So once in a while, allow yourself to break those rigid head rules and allow your heart to create flexibility with how your relationships are formed. This will allow for stronger, deeper and more effective bonds which will then create attractions to you as a leader and your business. So be open with your emotions (ensuring that you manage them), have empathy and promote honesty. This attracts the highest quality staff, customers and suppliers to your business.
Remember, being a resilient leader isn’t about becoming hard, it’s about being flexible. That’s when success and happiness flow in.