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  • Writer's pictureMaja Arnadottir

Are YOU Leading with Your Heart?

Heart-based leadership is about falling in love with your Self, your Strengths, your Work, and your fellow human beings (clients and co-workers). This style of being and leading in the world lets you face and resist tendencies to “lead to please” or to micro-manage and control. Leaders who lead with their hearts have the heart of those they lead and inspire loyalty and devotion in their teams.

Heart-based leadership is a focus on leading to behuman.

Being human means you are real, open, authentic, and vulnerable. We all are human, even when we pretend not to be. Why would a leader be anything other than human? As flesh and blood and not a robotic creature, you have a very unique perspective in how you can view your Self and your People with a lens of understanding, grace, humility and respect.

When it comes to YOU & your work and what YOU stand forYOU truly are the expert!

Leading with your heart is powerful!

Being a powerful heart-led leader inspires LOYALTY in teams and clients. That alone is enough of a benefit. Authenticity is known to produce Raving Fans. Heart Leadership is sort of a synonym for the ability of an individual to inspire loyalty and build powerful relationships by being kind, caring, and courageous. Virtually, by leading with the heart.

Authoritarian dictatorship is “so out” nowadays and hopefully on the way out on a global scale, more than it is expanding. Let us hope. Truth is; Nobody likes being told what to do or be made to suppress parts (or all) of themselves and their persona. Still, bullies have no limits! Bullies love gaining control. This is something all heart led leaders learn to accept as a byproduct created by dysfunctional environments. A Heart Leader is a heart-led person but by far s such a leader a pushover for they create strong limits and boundaries for Self and others. A heart-led leader is fuelled by a powerful, heartfelt Vision for Success and this Vision does not entail walking all over their fellow human beings. Heart Leaders are HERE to make a difference, and in order to make a difference; one must stand strong in one's heartfelt beliefs. After all, a heart-led leader is the one who is brave enough to be led by their own convictions even when this goes against the grain.

Heart leaders create limits!

For the sake of this article, let's continue to use the term Heart Leaders yet imagine it entails heart-led, heart-based, visionary, servant type leadership, and all of that good stuff! There really is no huge difference between all the descriptive leadership labels as they are all about this concept of leading with heart.

The most understanding and empathetic leaders can still set the bar high and hold people accountable. Love demands accountability to words and actions and this becomes a new balancing act to practice in life's situations. A heart-led leader has to ask Self; What do I truly believe? What are my values? How do I want to solve this situation? Who are the players? What is at stake? What is the greater impact of our decision? What is the greater impact of NOT making a decision?

A heart-led leader knows that "it's not all about ME, myself and I" and will take the greater collective into consideration... before; Self.

Leading with your heart takes courage!

Championing authenticity, compassion, connection and humanity takes courage. Creating limits and boundaries for what is acceptable and what is unacceptable is a big part of leading with your heart. A heart-led leader will (internally) know the difference between "right & wrong" and live by those convictions which helps build stronger and more trusting relationships. A heart-led leader knows not all will be driven by love and appreciate loving convictions... but that makes no difference to a heart-led leaders own convictions. On an organisational level such a leader adds air and fuel to a thriving and purpose driven culture.

Heart leadership is about connecting with the hearts of your people and taking actions to lead your team forward… not just the organisation. Heart leadership is a psychology for leadership success based on tried and tested habits of successful people. None of this is fresh science, and yet the concept of being authentic and vulnerable in business (and politics) is a bit of a fresh development. And this leadership style is definitely the way to go!

Leaders who lead with their hearts focus on alignment with core values and purpose and they inspire loyalty through their own alignment, authenticity, and transparency.

How am I a Heart Leader?

The prerequisites for being a Heart Leader is openness to change and willingness to grow and evolve as a human being. Heart Leaders often have a Visionary approach regarding the Collective. They hold up the goalpost, just high enough for others to feel it is within reach, and help create shared goals that are based in core values and purpose, supported by all. Ideally. The ones who gravitate towards your message will be the ones who remain.

This heart-based way of leading is related to the term servant leadership as one is leading “to serve” a greater collective. A servant leader is concerned with collective thriving.

What about when we are not thriving? Could you imagine being in the position of someone like Ukrainian President Zelenskyy; being called to serve a greater collective and having to instil and promote a fighting spirit into your nation!? Some people rise to the occasion.

Heart Leaders commonly share a; WE are all ONE mentality.

What makes Heart-led leaders unique?

What makes heart-led leaders unique is their vulnerability and openness to communication. They choose to listen for insight, understanding and potential, and can admit to their own “weaknesses” and oversights. They will expose the critic within, and also accept support and assistance... as much as they give it to others.

Being human and real is not about being good at “office politics” or about “leading to please”.

Heart leaders connect with their hearts and souls and perceive Self and others as ONE or at least a part of a greater WHOLE. An awakened Heart Leader will not see Self as any greater or lesser than another nor succumb to tyranny and unfair pressure. Choosing to lead with a strong Heart and an even stronger Vision for a greater whole is the name of this courageous game!

This type of leadership is about actively practicing how to show up as a GrownUp in the world. Then, to teach your wisdom to others simply by leading by example. You do this by making yourself responsible for your personal growth and for how you (on a personal and professional level) show up in this world. How we show up in the world is often situational depending on whether we are in the workplace, at home or in public, but in all situations; we always have a choice!

Choose Who YOU want to BE!

Heart Leaders tend to be quite conscious of the impact of their choices on both Self and others as they wish to consider and create the best (if not the greatest) impact for the whole.

A Heart Leader knows that leadership is not really about status or ego because for all intents and purposes, the journey of a Leader stops revolving around the leader.

The Hero's Journey ends up not really being about a single person as much as it is about the hero being able to get over themselves and LEAD SELF towards a goal that benefits a GREATER COLLECTIVE. In order to pursue a greater and grander Vision... you have to start by getting over yourself! This means becoming aware of you... and how you are showing up and being perceived by others. Do you have oversights? Are there blindspots in your approach? What beliefs are fuelling you? What beliefs may be holding you back?

A Heart Leader can see and acknowledge his or her own ego, and can focus on coming from their Adult Ego versus their Parent Ego or Child Ego.

The last thing a great leader wants to do is deny the existence of their own ego. That would be mistake numero UNO and a sure way to essentially... lose! A heart-led leader also has an ego for we all do. A side to their personality feels fulfilled by a sense of service and purpose and yet a heart-led leader is not ego-less. Intentionally practicing self-awareness will mature one's ego and help us in; coming from a place of love in our interactions. That is how we end up creating our Raving Fans... we LOVE them!

How does one exemplify Heart Leadership?

Note; Leaders who have heart also have the heart of those they lead.

A. Fall in LOVE with YOU!

Meaning; fall in love with your STRENGTHS & believe in your TALENTS.

When we lead from the heart we also extend grace and understanding towards ourselves.

A great starting point is to fall in love with one’s own Strengths versus fighting our weaknesses because nobody gets better by continually fighting and fixing weaknesses. (Excellence is created by honing your skills, not by perfecting everything else.)

B. Know thyself.

Practice self-awareness, empathy and caring communication.

Socrates believed that the first step to true wisdom was to "know thyself" for only then can we appreciate what we understand, and what remains to be learned. Perhaps, also only then do we learn how to give ourselves grace.

Practice candid, professional self-reflection as well as team reflection on past and present choices and aim to grow and learn (and never blame).

Be open to grow and evolve with help of others (i.e. 360 reviews).

Focus on your Values, Strengths and Character attributes... and work on understanding your own motives. This will also help you better understand others and their motives. ;)

C. Extend YOUR HEART to others...

Focus on connection, cooperation, collaboration, win-win, creativity, and joy... and extend your heart by sharing your authentic Vision with others. Seek assistance and offer reassurance when needed and MAKE A HABIT OF TELLING PEOPLE YOU LOVE THEM...

in one way or another. This does not mean you are expected to become some majorly gushy and affectionate anti-version of your natural self... but it does mean you can practice being more outspoken about your thoughts and ideas, and also receptive to receive or express feelings. Everyone has feelings. How do we handle our feelings? How do we handle the emotions of another? It can be a chore making sense of our own feelings... let alone someone else's feelings. To some; feelings is a scary word.

Emotions have long been considered an outside the workplace factor and as such the word feelings can bring an unsettling feeling to an old fashioned executive who used to get away with being directive. Yay! Those were the days!

Today's world is different and fast changing and feelings are a huge part of our lives and have come to be a more accepted phenomena. We measure our level of happiness and enjoyment by how we feel. Everyone wants to lean into what feels good and as such people do not want to work for assholes anymore. Excuse my language, but there is no better word for asshole.

If you intend on leading with your heart you will extend empathy and compassion to your fellow human beings BUT take note that a truly heart-led leader is NOT a people pleaser.

Leading with Heart...

As we work on ourselves and on "how we show up in the world", we also create guidelines, boundaries & limits for what we wish to see and manifest into our lives, workplaces and communities. Asking; How may I serve? What can I do to help? How may I be of service?... is beautiful and vulnerable. Life is about more than just you getting your needs met. The results of this lean-in, open-minded, caring approach are likely to be improved communication, stronger relationships, increased productivity, and a happier leader surrounded by happier people and happier TEAMS.

However, this can only occur when a leader's limits & boundaries are as powerful as their empathy and compassion. You would not let someone hurt someone you love now would you? At least not if you could help it! A heart-led leader is mindful of the heart of Self and also of the hearts of others and will choose to extend grace to Self... as well as others.

Question: Since you have made it this far...

Are you here to heed the call of heart based leadership?

Will you choose to inspire and evolve by leading with your heart?

Yay! What could possibly stand in your way?

Tada!... Meet YOUR EGO!

Ego refers to a person's sense of self-esteem or self-importance, and it is simply a perception of reality. How does your ego stand in your way? The thing about ego is that ego can forget that there is no "I" in TEAM. A good phrase goes; In a war of ego, the loser always wins.

Sometimes our choices can feel as simple as; am I going to let go and GO or am I going to hold on and EGO? Who is riding your boat on the sea of Life? Is it your higher Self that is at the wheel or is it your ego? When one embraces a heart-led leadership approach it means having to face one's own ego, many times over! Doing so will undoubtedly change your perception of reality. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at tend to change. I am sure you've heard that one before! A paraphrased Osho saying goes; Love is happy when it is able to give something... ego is happy when it is able to take something.

Are you here to give or are you here to receive? A lifelong practice for any leader is to tame one's own EGO as true leadership is not based in just ego.

Have you heard this saying before? Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do is in harmony.

Is Heart Leadership for YOU? Would that bring you a sense of harmony?

Know it will take courage. Not everyone may love what you do but the ones who do will become your Raving Fans. Are YOU ready to feel the fear and do it anyways?

Do you want to lead from a place of authenticity, empathy, conviction and power?

Remember; You can't live by your values if you are living for the approval of others.

What if... YOU are here to live for the approval of Self?

Why are YOU HERE? If not to BE a Creator & Co-Creator?

And to be brave enough to lead with your heart...?


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