Heart led leadership – the whole view

by Sep 19, 2022


 A couple of months ago, I was privileged to serve on a panel at leading global culture and employee engagement company Culture Amp’s Global Fundraiser.

The theme was Leadership from the Heart. We heard amazing stories of empathy, of vulnerability and of course courage. 

In fact Brene Brown tells us that:

The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage had a very different definition than it does today. Courage originally meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart. 

However, one of the things I noted was that as with many matters of the heart, we tend to romanticise the idea of ‘leading from the heart’.

It is tempting to focus on vulnerability, empathy, compassion and courage as what it means to lead from the heart.

I think it is more useful to have an inclusive conversation of ALL the emotions that influence our leadership that come from the heart.

This means we include conversations of fear, envy, grief, loneliness and shame.

When we see toxic leadership we are seeing the manifestation of leadership from a (wounded) heart.

Shame drives a fight, flight, freeze reaction in our brain.

We see this as the violence of bullying, deflection through blame, the coverup with bullshit.

This too is leading from the heart.

Its just a heart that needs care and self-compassion.

If as a leader you are struggling to connect with vulnerability, empathy, compassion and courage, start with a moment of kindness to yourself.

It is said the sunlight is the greatest disinfectant. When we are prepared to speak openly of our relationship to all the emotions that are processed from our ‘heart’ we limit the power of the shadow emotions (fear, envy, grief, loneliness and shame)

The other thing to consider with heart led leadership is energy. The heart is responsible for pumping the lifeblood of the body. 

Heart led leadership means working at the boundaries of energy. 

Leading from the heart means being mindful of things that increase your energy so you can give back to others. 

When leaders are consumed by the ‘energy sucks’ of corporate life, its hard for them to have energy for the areas that give life to the culture. 

Ultimately the heart is a wonderful metaphor to use when considering leadership. But only if we use the whole metaphor, not just the good bits!

Mindfulness is simply a conduit to better data processing


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