Is it relevant to consider the “heart” when you’re leading a team of high performing sales people, or leading a unicorn start-up targeting 3x or 4x growth and a billion dollar evaluation over the next few years? What are the risks and benefits of being “mindful” of the emotions or feelings when communicating to your team?
This is often a surprisingly polarizing question.
Personal feelings have no place in a high-functioning workplace.
Those in the “no-it’s-not-important” camp contend that the workplace is where we focus on getting stuff done. By definition, the “workplace” is no place for personal feelings. “Drama” belongs after hours when we’re watching This is Us. Folks on this side of the equation are known to suggest, “I communicate how I communicate, and if people can’t handle the directness then that’s their problem to contend with.” They call themselves “straight shooters,” and often take pride in their ability to be direct. I’ve worked with many in this group. Their teams have been known to function with military-like precision. That’s a pro. A con is that people tend not to stick around for long.
I’ve also worked with folks who feel that being mindful of emotions is paramount to creating cohesive teams who will stay, work very well together, and deliver exceptional results.
I’ve also worked with folks who feel that being mindful of emotions is paramount to creating cohesive teams who will stay, work very well together, and deliver exceptional results. They may not describe themselves as “Lead from the Heart” managers, but they do, in fact, lead from the heart. They tend to take a holistic, whole-person approach to leadership. They want their teams to both get the job done, and they also own a role in helping them feel goodabout it (or at least not feel bad about it). This kind of leader creates deeply connected teams, and also spends time in conversation about “feelings,” when the conversation could very well be about results.
The Hybrid Leader
Then there’s the “hybrid leader.” Those are the leaders who can manage to the numbers and can certainly be “all business” when they need to be. They are also sensitive that the heart plays a role, perhaps not a starring role, but at least a supporting role, in the drama that is our workplace. The character Jean Luc Picard (for you Star Trek TNG fans out there) comes to mind as an example.
I’m leaving lots of stuff on the table in this article, I know (like the studies on the role of EQ in effective C-suite leadership) because I want to spark a real discussion (both in the comments below, most certainly, and also in your office, with your team over a coffee) and not lean too heavily on one or another side of the question.
Latest Episode of Yay Monday! Explores the Role of the Heart in Leadership
In my latest episode of Yay Monday!, my guest, Mark C. Crowley (author of the prescient, and best selling, Lead From The Heart: Transformational Leadership For The 21st Century) and I talk about the role the heart can play in leadership, and in creating a great employee experience. There are some very specific takeaways for leaders who would like to put more heart in their leadership.
But back to my question (okay, so now it’s two questions): Does leading from the heart make a difference when the goal is to create high-performing teams? And thinking about employee experience, should executives feel a responsibility to allow room for the heart in their leadership approach? I’d love to know your thoughts.