Leading with your Heart

I lead from the heart, not from the brain. Which according to a recent Fastcompany article, which includes some great research conducted by the Institute of HeartMath, is exactly where leadership needs to be headed.

We now know that the heart and the brain are in a constant two-way communication and that the heart sends more information to the brain than vice versa. The signals the heart sends affect the brain centers involved in our decision-making and in our ability to perceive. In other words, each beat reflects our current emotional state. If we’re angry, irritated or frustrated, the heart beats out a very chaotic message. Conversely, more positive emotions create harmony in our nervous system and the heart rhythm pattern we have when we’re in our most optimal state.

Fascinating and yet there is so much logic in this it’s a wonder we haven’t thought about this before.

Coincidentally, a Towers Watson study recently showed that the greatest driver of employee engagement worldwide is whether or not people feel their managers and organizations have genuine concern for their well-being. Heartmath’s corresponding insight: More caring leaders set off the neural machinery that produces optimal workplace performance.

Leading from the heart is a huge pivot in the world of leadership and managing. Yes there has been a slow movement to be more engaging with employee’s and teams but that engagement has historically stopped at the doorstep of the office. It is rare for a leader to become concerned and invested at even a basic level in his or her employees personal life or even just their interests outside of the office.

Now based on this article I’m not advocating that you sit down with your employee’s and ask them how their marriage is, or there relationship with their mother or father. There should be boundaries in place but if you notice an employee who consistently bikes to work, or talks about a favorite sports team, then by all means engage them.

Some of you are probably already discounting your ability to engage or to be relational. Well, even if you find that you are more insulated this doesn’t mean you aren’t relational, it just means that you tend to listen more before acting on those relationship aspects. Which in some cases can be more effective then charging in with hugs, atta-boys, and other “feel-good” methods.

It’s long been believed that a job and a paycheck was sufficient motivation for workers to perform. But pay in all of its manifestations now ranks no higher than fifth in importance globally as the reason why people excel in their jobs.

While the idea of managing people with greater care may strike some as intrinsically wimpy, the Conference Board’s ongoing employee engagement research has proved that workplace leadership cannot succeed without it.

What matters most to people is how they are made to feel by the organizations that employ them, and by the bosses who manage them. So, demonstrate to your employees that they’re authentically valued. Provide them with opportunities to grow and to contribute at a higher level. Appreciate their work. Make people feel they matter. Do all these things and more–knowing it’s rarely an appeal to our minds that inspires any of our greatest achievements.

So how do you lead? Are you following your heart, or your head?

Author: peter

Peter Saddington is an Organizational Scientist and Certified Scrum Trainer. You can find him at AgileforAll.com

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