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Leading by Heart

by Jonathan Raymond

January 16th, 2013

Most business leaders and professionals lead with their head. It mostly works, and nobody will criticize you for it (usually because that’s the way they do it). But you’re paying a huge price every day in the form of stress, stagnation and self-doubt, in ways you might not realize. Leading by heart is a whole other matter – and it’s as hard as it is worth it.

Leading by heart means seeing your role as a verb, not a noun. “CEOing,” not the CEO. A verb moves, adapts, grows and surprises all the people who are standing still. If you want to know what a verb does against a noun, take a look at the what the Colorado River has done to the Grand Canyon.

Leading Is a Verb by Jonathan Raymond - Text Card 

Maybe someday we’ll lose the very ‘military-industrial complex sounding’ noun Chief Executive Officer in favor of something that still acknowledges authority without all the self-importance – like “Business Leader.” It’d be for people who love that leadership is a journey that never ends, that the lessons just get more subtle, and who wake up every day trying to discover how yesterday’s manager is today’s technician.

Here’s three touchstones to think about Leading By Heart:

Be Spacious: Good leaders are effective problem solvers. They can see the ideas and issues on the page and rearrange them, maybe even think of a new element nobody else has yet – and they go for it. Leading by heart means waiting. It’s not passive, but it’s about opening up spaces for others to innovate and lead. A good leader sees low morale and finds three ways to improve it. A great leader asks “What am I/we doing as an organization that people don’t take up the call to ownership?” Good leaders are heroes. Great leaders are catalysts.

Be Evocative: Good leaders provoke, they get people to do things they don’t want to do using carrots and sticks – they use management “tactics.” Great leaders evoke, they inspire people to discover places in themselves they didn’t know they had by modeling that through their own behavior. They don’t use “tactics” on human beings. They actually care about people, and want to make something meaningful where who gets the credit is an absurd question. A good leader has good ideas. A great leader loves when others have better ones.

Be Fearless of Fear: Good leaders aren’t stopped by fear. They keep going when others say no way or see no way. They muscle up and don’t show their anxiety or imperfections because they think it undermines their authority. Great leaders aren’t stopped by fear either, but they open up to it, which allows them to get bigger than it. They “own” their fear because it’s real, and they let it impact them and open them up to becoming more transparent in their relationships with employees and customers. Good leaders have high standards for others, and get results. Great leaders have high standards for themselves, which inspires others to do the same.

Of course, you can’t even begin to lead by heart until you disentangle your over-involvement in the day-to-day. You need some perspective, a process, and a good business coach is all the better – but it’s relatively easy to start letting go of the technical-work-you-shouldn’t-be-doing to make room for more strategic work.

Once you get down that road far enough, you have a new choice. You can ease up knowing you’ve done something 99% of business leaders never have the courage to do. Or, you can use this new freedom to go the next mile and literally change the basis of what you do every day. You can work on leading by heart.

Wise people know that heart moves the mind and not the other way around. Integrity is when you live that way.

Jonathan Raymond

  1. Hemant Patel says:

    Great leaders lead hearts and manage minds. They constantly engage themselves in influencing hearts.

  2. Harry Fassett says:

    Leading by the heart is a good start, and combined with fearless leadership, one has the odds stacked in their favor by far.

  3. Laura Martin says:

    Awesome post! Thank you, very inspiring!

  4. Andrew Brownstone says:

    YES! It is true … and leading/living by heart takes far more courage and integrity than doing things the way that most of the population does. We should not succumb to peer pressure!

  5. Tami says:

    LOVE the Business Leader versus CEO! I’m changing my email signature right now.

  6. Bob says:

    Reminds me of what Ken Blanchard writes in his book LLJ; Head, Heart, Hands and Habits are signs of a great “servant-leader”.

    Be well

  7. Waystation49 says:

    Both heart and head are equally important.
    It’s balance.

    Heart focuses on relationships.

    Head sees obstacles in a “road” and either stops to wait or finds a safe way to navigate.

    Meanwhile the Hearts are in the back seat complaining”, or “offering suggestions” without being aware of obstacles they don’t see and don’t want to see or think about. They are focused on talking to each other, but not “offering to drive”.

    In an emergency, i want to be with the “Head person” most everytime. Together we look for, analyze, strategize, and determine a Plan A, B etc.

    If it looks like for sure none of us will make it out alive, all hope is gone, then I want to know the Heart person is with me.

    I recognize I am a “Head person”/ I am trend tracker, Fururist.

    I look for solutions for common government problems where countries, states and provinces, and cities can take the best ideas and practices to improve quality of life.

    I keep Heart people around me to help to keep me informed of the Heart people’s priorities and to keep me balanced.

  8. Sean M. Beatty says:

    Loved it, Jonathan! Reminds me of what I learned from “The Power Principle” by Blaine Lee. There are three ways people move others:
    1. Coercion – works only as long as people feel threatened
    2. Utility (think “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”) – works only until they find a better deal
    3. Honor/Vision – people follow because they buy into your vision. Your goals become what they want too.
    The latter is leading from the heart!

  9. Cheri says:

    Great article! It’s inspiring to recognize that my leadership style, while it’s been challenging, is that of a great leader… a question I have is how to find people who are ready for that challenge… I find many people want to simply be told what to do, not challenged to be creative, not inspired or empowered to bring themselves fully to the table and that has been one of my challenges lately.. people start off being excited, but when it comes down to them actually stepping into their own power and their own ability to be great leaders, they get stuck in the fear.. love to have some input on how to get people past that place and into action

    • Slade Machamer says:

      It can be a real challenge to evoke your people’s ownership and passion to do what they do from a new ground. The issue could be living in a lot of places in the organization, from mentoring, to organizational structure, to something completely off your radar. This is where a coach can really help. They’re expert ‘blind-spot checkers’ and have to be because visionary leaders sometimes need help seeing things right at hand.

  10. Alan says:

    Talking about the me I see.

  11. Michelle says:

    I loved this post!

  12. Mark DiMassimo says:

    After some years with my eMyth coach and a great deal of progress to show for it, I changed my title from CEO to simply Chief, seeing myself more as a leader of a tribe.

  13. Arvind says:

    I just loved the opening para which says that as business leaders, we lead with self doubt everyday…great article..cheers

  14. Kerri Lake says:

    The big myth is that leading by heart is hard work. It’s actually the opposite. Integrity itself is effortless. The hard work is in the perpetual evaluation of worthiness, judgment, fear and competition. Which are actually all born of judgment…

    The worlds of commerce, business and government have been built on competition. Survival. And we’ve been force-fed the belief that we have to fight to survive, that winning is important, for so long that most believe it’s the truth. Where did we ever get convinced that conquering other living beings is fun? It takes a lot of judgments to hold those systems in place. A lot of hard work.

    Leading by heart doesn’t mean the everyday functioning in life will collapse; as the author said so beautifully, it simply creates space for everyone else to shine through whatever they are doing. Some grow very big. Others not so big. But the growth is effortless…an intense ride, but effortless.

  15. Frank Medina says:

    Inspiring! this post couldn’t come at a better time for me, as I recruit and build my team. Jonathan’s touchstones resonated with me, especially “Be fearless of fear”. Personally, the process of opening myself to my fears was a transformational experience.

    Insightful replies guys! this was certainly a refreshing reading.

  16. Howard says:

    Very inspiring! Real wisdom is more than head knowledge – and even the heart. The Spirit’s also involved. Just forwarded it to a friend who’s having problems with leading a church. Well done EMyth keep the wisdom flowing.

  17. Dean Goranson says:

    Lets say you are part of a great leaders
    team. Based on Jonathan’s article what
    would it be like to work with this person,
    how would it feel, what expectations
    would you be rewarded by? Notice I did
    not say work for them, that relationship
    is much different. Sadly most are CEO’s
    treating their staffs as vassals, things to
    be used and consumed. As difficult as it
    may seem,strive to become what this
    article speaks to as well as what E Myth
    teaches. Let others have the chance to
    experience a great leader.