Leading from the Heart

Posted by Joseph Sherren on December 18, 2014

Christmas is just days away and many organizations are celebrating the holidays and commemorating the past year. It is also the time when managers wear more of their heart on their sleeves and display true feelings of kindness toward their employees.

Sometime I wonder, why does it take the spirit of Christmas to show kindness? Why is there not an ongoing culture of gratitude all year long?  Shouldn’t we see a constant display of appreciation — for the job, employees and employers?

I just returned from the annual convention for the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS) held in Toronto this year.  During the event I had the great pleasure of listening to my good friend Martin Latulippe from Moncton, N.B.

Martin said he believes there are two types of currency in business.

1) The most common one is hard currency — money! Money shows up on the scoreboards of our businesses in the form of revenues and profits.

2) The currency that many of us don’t take into account is “heart” currency! Soft currency that is created by the power of our hearts and shows up on the scoreboards as the lasting legacy that we create in the lives of others.

Martin asked: “Would you love doing what you are doing even if you didn’t get paid?”

He said, “A legacy that translates into dedicated clients who are so moved by your mission and your products that not only will they hire us over and over again, they will passionately refer us to their network of friends and colleagues, so they will also patronize our organization.”

What most of us learn at some point in our careers is that with leadership comes great responsibility. Leadership requires more than planning, visioning, goal setting and budgeting. With leadership comes the role of a shepherd to care for those under your charge, ensuring their well being and their ongoing development.

Gallup studies validate (in general) that people feel worse about their work, bosses and organizations now than ever before. They reveal that 71 per cent of American workers are either not engaged in their jobs — or are actively disengaged. Why? Is it because we have removed the “heart” from our businesses and are just focusing on the “hard” currency?

This is bad for business. Gallup estimates that unhappy employees are costing approximately $300 billion in lost productivity every year.

Unfortunately, the solution contradicts one of the most widely accepted current paradigms in business, which is: keep the heart and emotions out of leadership.  However, recent studies show that the path to engaging workers is through their hearts. In fact, the heart is the primary driver of optimal human performance.

The idea of bringing the heart into workplace leadership may be seen as a weak approach that inherently undermines productivity and profitability. Traditional leadership theory assures us the best managers are the brightest and most logical — insulated from emotions.

A leader who has a passion for their profession is driven by the energy it produces. Donald Trump said, “Without passion, you don’t have energy; without energy, you have nothing.” Leaders who have passion also bring energy into what they do — not just during the holidays.

My question for managers this week: “Do you have a passion for your profession and do you let that passion from your heart show throughout the year, not just during the festive season?”

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