How to Put the Heart back into Leadership

by Carmen Payne

Photo courtesy of Financial Potion

In a 2018 article, “The Real Crisis in Leadership,” Forbes shared the following data:
“One in two employees at some point in their career leave their job to get away from their manager — solely in an effort to improve their overall lives. Think about this fact for a moment: 50% of employees leave their jobs at some point because their leaders are so bad that they’re literally ruining their lives.”

This may sound like doom and gloom; however, research also shows a direct correlation between heart-based leadership and the bottom line and there is a way to shift from a toxic environment to an environment for transparency, collaboration, empowerment and revenue growth.

Here are five fundamentals to get you started toward leading with your heart:
Lead with love. Leading with your heart starts first with being able to love yourself. If you cannot love yourself, your ability to lead from your heart will be impaired. Try to avoid comparing yourself to others and avoid negative self-talk. One of the quickest ways to shift negative self-talk is to come from a place of gratitude. Take a moment to write three things you appreciate about yourself. What do you love the most about you? From here, answer the question, “What do you appreciate about those you lead?”

Influence positively. How you show up and manage your emotions directly impacts those around you and the culture/environment you create. Research conducted by the Heart Math Institute found we emit an electromagnetic field (EMF) that extends about three to six feet from our body. This field emits our emotional frequency that can be detected by others. You’ve heard the phrase, “You could cut the atmosphere with a knife” — this refers to our EMF.

So, what frequencies do you want to emit? Do you want to evoke fear-based frequencies or love-based frequencies such as compassion, empathy and appreciation? You get to choose. This may require some introspection and direct employee feedback to understand what behaviors you need to change. The more self-aware you are, the more you will grow as a leader.

Be curious. This is a leadership superpower! There are two parts: One, ask questions, and two, listen deeply. Ask questions to gain clarity, solve problems, get creative, explore options and possibilities. Encourage participation, collaboration and inclusion. It empowers and builds trust in others. Really listen.

Otto Scharmer teaches four levels of listening. Level one is listening to confirm your own thoughts. Level two is the ability to become aware of what is different from your own thinking; being open to and influenced by new ideas and information. Level three is connecting with the person as they speak; listening with your heart. Level four is surround listening — the ability to visualize your employee beyond where they are now and see their future potential growth opportunities. This is what makes leaders great coaches.

Use your words wisely. The words we speak to ourselves and to others form the basis of how we communicate our beliefs. Take a moment to think of something you heard, witnessed or read that you had a hard time letting go of. How long and how frequently did you replay this thought? What evidence presented itself in your environment to further reinforce this thought? Now think of something someone said to you that was kind or encouraging. This second thought may have been more challenging to remember. That is the power of your words. Check in with yourself. As a leader, what positive or negative imprint are your words leaving on those you lead?

Empower others thus empowering yourself. Teach others to fish, as the old proverb goes. Be vulnerable and relinquish control. Avoid micromanaging your employees, as this can feel suffocating and diminish their ability to be creative, share ideas and co-create! This can prevent job fulfillment and inhibit their professional growth. Empower them, play to their strengths, their genius. Additionally, give recognition and show appreciation when it is due, not just at the end of a project or task.

Carmen Payne is the owner of SOAR! Transformational Life Coaching. She works with business and corporate professionals to develop their leadership skills and increase their self-awareness, in order to help each person create an even better personal and professional life fit. Payne’s services include personalized coaching, workshops, consulting and speaking. Payne retains her Project Management Professional accreditation and obtained her coaching certifications at the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts and with the Quantum Success Coaching Academy. Payne also holds certifications in Neuro Linguistics Programing and Time Line Therapy® and is a certified Add Heart© facilitator.

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