The Heart of Leadership
By Marilyn Tam
Bill, CEO of the industry leading company smiled, nodded and said, my people will go through walls for me.
He was confident that his team would follow his direction in the upcoming challenges. We were working together to significantly improve the standards for the industry, and there are potentially significant obstacles along the way. Making dramatic changes are disruptive, and some of the team may resist and/or sabotage the process.
What about you? Are you certain that your crew would stand with you when you lead them into demanding situations? This is the test of leadership. This is the heart of leadership.Leadership’s task is to get to the heart of the matter.
Today’s tight labor market and proliferation of remote work have given workers more employment options. People are seeking reasons to be committed to an organization where they are spending the bulk of their time. According to Harvard Business Review and Gallup research , people are looking for meaning and growth in their work even before a bigger paycheck.
Microsoft, one of the world’s most respected and highest ranked company’s CEO, Satya Nadella states that empathy is the center of their agenda for innovation. Respect, understanding, and support is at the core of their flourishing and ability to attract, retain and develop their team.
Satya Nadella, CEO MIcrosoft states ”Empathy is the center of our agenda for innovation”On the employer review site Glassdoor, Microsoft is rated 4.5 out of 5.0 by their employees. This rating is second only to Bain and Company, a company also known for treating their team with heart, after all as a consulting company, Bain and Company must treat their biggest asset, their consultants well. They need their workers, without them they have absolutely nothing.
Building our heart — mind connection is essential for personal wellbeing as well as a leadership skill. Deborah Rozman, President & CEO of HeartMath, author and psychologist knows this very well. Her organization is founded on guiding and training leaders on how incorporate heart into leadership. Frequently, accumulated stress results in anxiety, anger, depression, sleeplessness, illness, and more. When your physical, mental and emotional systems are aligned, you are more able to access your heart’s intuitive guidance and connect with your higher creative potentials and enable you to manage and interact from compassion and understanding.
Recently Deborah Rozman and I discussed why and how to lead, recruit, retain and motivate an organization’s teams. The podcast and video are now offered on HeartMath’s website and on Youtube. A leader with heart means that they listen, build confidence and respect, while establishing and executing on the mission and purpose of the organization. They sincerely appreciate, understand, and train their workforce with understanding and compassion. And the results are remarkable and well documented scientifically. Exactly what is needed for the current times, when workers are looking for meaning and connection in their work.
How to build your heart-mind coherence?
Below are five tools you can use from HeartMath and my experience, to support your development of this powerful connection:
1. Establish a quiet and safe environment — where you can take a few moments to reflect and center. You can be inside a building or in nature where you can spend by yourself for the duration of the exercise, which can be as short as a few minutes to 30 minutes or more.
2. Heart Focused Breathing — turn your focus to your heart/chest area and breathe from there. Take slower and more conscious breaths. Notice how that relaxes your body by gently sensing into each limb, your torso and your head and shoulders. Close your eyes and continue to breathe in this manner.
3. Enliven a positive mindset — recall and hold a pleasing and fond incident or memory and/or invoke gratitude and a feeling of love. Keep that feeling in your mind and heart. Continue your heart focused breathing.
4. Hold that positive mindset and relax in that space for 3 minutes or more. You can stay in this condition as long as you are comfortable. Notice how your body and mind continue to unwind and de-stress.
5. Slowly open your eyes — and consciously re-enter the physical space you are in. Acknowledge your strengthened coherence between your heart and mind. Gently move your body and resume your day with renewed energy and insight.
What happened to Bill and his challenging project? He incorporated the 5 mind-heart coherence steps into the beginning of his strategy meetings. He shared the bold and potentially hugely rewarding venture with his team. Indeed, his team stood with him as they took on the biggest and riskiest project in their company history. They exchanged ideas, outlined opportunities and pitfalls that are inherent in the ambitious venture. They bonded and felt safe to share, innovate and co-create.
Now six months later, they have secured the foundation of what will be the next step forward in their company’s future. Even a solid team needs a boost when the stakes are very high. In our assessment review,
Bill gave me a high five as we celebrated the enthusiastic reception to what was a perilous journey. They are not home yet, but they know the way, and the 5 mind-heart coherence steps are now part of their meeting protocol. The heart in leadership is now part of their company culture.
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