When faced with a decision, do you rely on your head or your heart? Many would argue that decisions – especially business decisions – are best when made as the result of carefully reviewing facts, weighing the options, and then making the most logical choice. In other words, go with your head and forgo your heart. As leaders, however, we make many decisions throughout the day. And a number of them – if you want to be a truly effective leader – need to involve your heart.
No matter what the poster on the wall might say, it’s YOUR actions and reactions as a leader that establish the true culture of an organization. Your employees look to you as a model for how they treat one another, how loyal they are to their team and the organization, and how they behave in general. Showing some heart in your behaviors, in your conversations and in your approach to decision-making will go a long way to ensuring that there is heart in your company culture.
Here's an example. You may tend toward being direct and purposeful. Say what you need to say and move on. But remember, words are powerful. They convey information and they also inflict feelings. As Maya Angelou said, “people will forget what you said…but people will never forget how you made them feel.” You can still be direct and purposeful, but how about wrapping those words in a blanket of gentleness and kindness? Think about how that might affect the outcome.
When you are in a difficult conversation, take a deep breath, count to 5, and imagine yourself in the other person’s shoes. How might this impact your conversation?
As leaders, we’re busy. We move through the day from meetings to issues to decisions with little time to reflect or to tap into that inner voice that helps us align our actions, intentions, and values: our heart. Last month was “heart health” month. In honor of that, I recommend that, going forward, you do this brief exercise before going into an important meeting or difficult conversation.
Spend a few quiet moments to get grounded. Feel your connectedness to the earth – imagine the trees, rivers, mountains and oceans that make up this beautiful planet; feel the ground beneath you.
Imagine your audience. What do they need to hear from you? How do they need to hear it? What can you say, or how can you say it in a way that conveys positivity and optimism? See yourself as the conduit between your audience and what they need from the meeting or conversation.
Connect with your inner self. Listen to your heart to understand what you need to do to connect with your audience.
Set an intention for the meeting, such as to be direct but open, tough but gentle, logical but empathetic, or simply to have clarity and openness. Let your connectedness guide your approach and your message.
Get out of your head and into your heart. Be receptive to new ways of showing up.
And as you make decisions throughout the day, give your heart a voice in the process.
“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.” – Carl Jung