1) The heart regarded as the centre of thought, feeling and emotion; 2) Courage or enthusiasm; 3) The innermost part of something.
Notice how often business language refers to the heart. For example – “getting to the heart of the matter,” “what lies at the heart of the issue,” and “to have a change of heart”. Notice the origin of the word “courage:” cor, standing for heart. To have courage means to have heart. When we encourage others, offering them courage, we literally give them heart.
Choose whether to interact from fear or love. We can either interact with the world from fear or love – including the arena of work. Heart-based leaders do not become uncomfortable when coached to own the responsibility for bringing their hearts to work and encouraging others to do the same. They are willing rather than panicked by the suggestion.
Observe your assumptions about caring for people. A common fear-based objection is to worry that being caring will translate into being taken advantage of. To love and yet need to make decisions that cause people pain are not mutually exclusive. The act of showing kindness to employees does not render leaders foolish or impotent in the dog-eat-dog business world; quite the opposite.
Avoid a singular focus on the head over the heart. In most companies, the head frequently rules the roost. In left brain-dominated workplaces, there is a belief that logic alone will result in productivity. The heart is viewed as somehow soft and therefore unnecessary. As a result, much of organizational life is out of balance. While paradoxical, harmony between head and heart is optimal.
Approach even difficult tasks with the heart. Even when their actions would not be deemed loving (for example, laying off their workforce), soul-inspiring leaders realize they can still approach obligatory tasks in heart-based ways. In this context, heart involves both strength and toughness. It involves leaders’ awareness of their responsibility to be both fair and firm, gutsy and gracious.
Strengthen your heart muscle through willingness. Being a believer does not automatically a doer make. Activating the power of our hearts takes practice and consistent intention. While invisible to the eye, make no mistake: the health of a company’s ‘heart’ is felt at the core of everyone’s being – through outward-rippling effects on employees, shareholders, customers and suppliers.
Invite the benefits of the heart into your business results. The best leaders achieve their outstanding results precisely because they pay attention to the heart. If anything, outwardly gruff leaders ultimately become what we call beloved – those for whom people will give their all. Beneath their blustery exteriors lie hearts of gold. Heart is a powerful force in achieving high standards and stretch goals.
Believe the link between heart and profit. Leaders who capture their employees’ hearts seldom need to worry about the motivation to produce profit and earnings – the supposed reasons for being in business. Engaged hearts motivate themselves. Forward-looking businesses recognize ‘heart’ can achieve results far surpassing any financial forecast dreamt up by the brain alone.
Questions For Reflection
What is one thing you have done in the last week to send a signal to people that welcoming the heart at work is important to you?
What proportions of your life do you spend coming from your head, heart and hands – and what do you notice about these percentages?
How much would you say you “love” the people you lead, the products and services you offer, and the customers or clients you serve?