Archive | July 2013

Leading from the heart

download (3)“Leadership is not a formula or a program, it’s a human activity that comes from the heart and considers the hearts of others. It’s an attitude, not a routine.” ~Lance Secretan

Even with leaders, loyalty and respect are earned, not given. It’s the leader’s emotional intelligence skills determining their ability to influence and inspire others.

Here’s a perspective using the head and the heart. Purpose and mission are important to both the head and heart leaders, but the day-to-day approach is stark in contrast.

When someone leads from the head, there’s an intellectual process that seems quite rational and reasonable. As long as everything is running smoothly, this approach works well.

However, when there’s stress and tension, then the ego steps in looking for causes and someone to blame for the situation. Voices and tensions are raised in reaction to the chaos. It’s like the lights were shut off as the darkness spreads throughout affecting anyone involved, even on the periphery.

Once the problem is resolved, outer appearances show that everything is back to normal. However, a serious toll will have been taken, leaving anger and humiliation to fester in the wake. Things will have been said and done that many will carry as silent wounds.

When someone is allowing the head to rule during those stressful times, as things appear to be going desperately wrong, the ego is like a general involved in a bloody battle. All civility is tossed aside in favor of getting the job done. It’s a fear-based environment and everyone dreads being caught in the crossfire.

A heart-centered leader sees the people rather than the task as the number one priority. This leader will be focused on bringing out the best in people in all circumstances. Relationships are built based on respect, growth, cooperation and communication.

When leading from the heart, time is set aside to understand what’s important to each individual in terms of their:

Future aspirations
The loyal union is predicated on helping each other get what they want.

Should a tense situation arise, rather than looking for a culprit, people will respond to the immediate needs while looking for the learning to be gained from the experience. Instead of making accusations, ways to resolve the situation are found and changes are made to reduce the likelihood of a re-occurrence.

At the core of the heart-centered leadership is preservation of each individual’s value to the team, the organization. When leaders take the time to view their staff from different perspectives, particularly personally, they will see strengths and commitment beyond their imaginings.

The proof of this is seen in each episode of Undercover Boss. The CEO and their directors wonder how they can improve performance. It’s decided the CEO will go undercover.

Always in disguise, the new worker experiences great difficulty doing any of the jobs they are given. Suddenly at least 2 things become obvious to the boss:

The employees are working at maximum capacity
Most of the people, despite personal challenges, are performing amazingly well.
It’s only when these leaders have some heartfelt moments with some individuals that they recognize the extraordinary people working in their companies. Later the CEO institutes programs or assistance.

In each case, the CEO found the heart of their organization by engaging with each employee as a peer with something to learn from them. Judgments were set aside in pursuit of understanding.

Although their individual contribution won’t show up on the spreadsheet, the personal pride of the workers performing to the best of their abilities shone through in the personal interactions with the undercover boss.

Each one ended up in tears when they were finally recognized and appreciated for their value to the organization. Leading from the heart may take more time, but the outcomes are well worth the effort.


Whats in a word?

bigstock_leadership_6829983For a first piece, I thought it prudent to touch on an aspect of leadership that is often taken forgranted: integrity. In leading others, its always important that who we are publicly is exactly the asme as who we are privately. The degree to which these two worlds differ, is the degree to which trust is gained or lost.

Corporate Integrity: It Starts at the Top

I heard of a story about a gentleman who used to be affiliated with a construction company whose owner ordered the workers to cut corners in every way possible without getting caught. Some foremen were even chastised for taking extra care to do a good job. Did this philosophy work? No. The company did make money, but the employees who took pride in their work went elsewhere, leaving a workforce who simply was not trustworthy and a company which had a shady reputation.

When a new owner set a policy of always doing things right, the company slowly began to grow. Those who continued to cut corners were dismissed and a new vitality began to emerge as the employees felt good about themselves; they began to love their jobs and became proud of who they worked for. Guess what? This company continues to flourish today. Coincidence? I think not.

Individual Integrity: We Are All Accountable

Writer and speaker Nicky Gumble punctuates this truth in the following story:
A man named Gibbo used to work as a clerk for Selfridges. One day the phone rang and Gibbo answered. The caller asked to speak to Gordon Selfridge, who happened to be in the room at the time. When Mr. Selfridge instructed Gibbo to tell the caller that he was out, Gibbo handed him the phone and said, ‘You tell him you’re out!’ Gordon Selfridge was absolutely furious, but Gibbo said to him, ‘Look, if I can lie for you, I can lie to you. And I never will.’ That moment transformed Gibbo’s career at Selfridges – he became the owner’s most trusted employee.

Integrity, for Gibbo, was so deeply ingrained that he disobeyed his boss without hesitation. Yes, he might have been fired, but I am guessing that Gibbo wouldn’t have wanted to continue working there anyway. In this case, however, his integrity was instrumental to his ascent at Selfridges.

Why Integrity Works

It is no surprise that employees with integrity shine. They do not undermine their fellow workers, they work just as hard whether they are being watched or not, they can always be counted on to do their best, and they will be honest enough to admit it if they have made mistakes. They won’t pass the blame, but they will share the credit. They are an inspiration to others, creating a positive and upbeat work environment.
If you were in charge of recruitment and networking, wouldn’t you dig beneath the surface of a potential employee’s resume to learn of their integrity? Of course you would. Therefore, if you are that employee, your services will be coveted, both when you are hired and for years thereafter.

How Are You Doing?
• Do you leave work early when there is no possibility anyone else will find out?
• Do you accept full responsibility (or your share) when things don’t go well?
• Do you share the credit when things go right?
• Do you confront wrongdoing, even if it means confronting a Team Leader/Manager?
• Do you hide legitimate income to avoid paying taxes on it (such as not reporting cash payments)?
• Do you claim tax deductions you can’t document?

Because we tend to be blind to our own shortcomings, I challenge you to ask a friend – one with integrity – to tell you honestly whether you are more like Gibbo or his boss. The difference between the two is the difference between those who just talk the talk and whose who are truly leading.