Three friends recently have had heart attacks. Does that make them any less capable of leading? Of course not, but it got me thinking about the heart of a leader and what that means. Do you believe you have the heart of a true leader? It’s a question you can likely answer, yet many I know are also acting as if they want to lead, when the truth is they’d rather go it alone. That kind of stress can lead to a heart attack, but this is a bigger issue. The truth is this: Just because everyone CAN lead doesn’t mean they SHOULD lead or that they HAVE to lead, yet the enticement of perceived leader benefits is compelling. No matter your choice to lead or not lead, let’s look at whether, according to these guidelines, you have the heart of a leader.
Does it Pump You Up?
I must admit this phrase reminds me of the old SNL skit of the two body builders. (Want to reminisce? SNL Pump You Up Skit Video on You Tube) However, with reference to your leadership heart, let’s look at how pumped you get over the achievements of others. Does it get your blood going to see other’s perform great feats? Or do you experience the converse in a way that your blood is constantly boiling over what they don’t do or don’t do right. Those with the heart of a real leader, spend more time catching team members doing things right than they do with those messing things up. Think of the message that small change would send. Where do you spend your time and do you get pumped up in a way they need you to be when they do great things?
Does IT Beat or Do You?
A true leader has a heart, figuratively and literally. Perhaps they are the heartbeat of the team or realize that those team members are the heart of the matter. They care. Often a LOT. They are known to be approachable, level-headed most times, and available to those they lead on a level that’s real. They share their vulnerability as is mentioned in this article from Entrepreneur magazine. Those who don’t end up beating up or bullying those they lead, or at least that is how their behavior is frequently perceived. If you’re being called names behind your back or referred to as cold or icey or other labels with less tact, it is time to examine your reputation score. Beating up on those you lead is not motivating them to do better. In fact, in most cases, showing you care and showing them you can fail will do more to motivate their performance than the most significant scare tactics.
Does it Flow Freely?
Heart attacks are often caused by blockages of the arteries. There are similar blockages that can occur for leaders and it is a concept danced around in conversations about authenticity. Have you given yourself permission to really be who you are, authentically and for real? A real leader does. While everyone may not always like what you say or how you do things, you can look in the mirror and know that you’re being true to yourself. Hiding who you are for the chance at a promotion or to collect a bigger paycheck is a long term losing battle and will cause progressive problems on that career climb. Without trying to be fluffy, the fix here is to let your heart flow freely. Be real. (This is a tool that will help you begin that journey) Once you’ve done that and give yourself permission to be real, the next step is to ensure you’re in a role that allows you to continue to do that. Perhaps it is one known as leader, perhaps it’s not.
Is it Open?
While they nearly trigger my gag reflex when I see them, remember the commercials with Jane Seymour about her open heart collection jewelry line? She says something like “if you’re heart is open, love will always find a way in.” For most leaders, this will be a bit much to embrace in a workplace. Yet, let’s look at the concept. If your heart is open, you might hire a person with potential who just needs your guidance. If your heart is open you may give more than that for which you’re being paid. If your heart is open, you may empathize with the team members you lead who are the most different than you and misunderstand you just as often as you misunderstand them. A real leader’s heart is open, even when they’re at work. You don’t need to keep Hallmark in business to do it or have rainbows and unicorns springing forth from your mouth, you simply need to be a real live human and remember that those you lead are not minions, but humans, too.
Maybe it’s time for a heart health check –up. Are you leading with heart and being real for those you lead? Do you have the heart of a real leader? Or are you heartless at times and wonder why their interest, engagement, motivation, morale, and performance declines?