Most of us think of tough journeys like the climbing a physical or emotional mountain. Maybe it is crossing a desert or fording a raging river. Maybe it is reaching a goal that no one thought was possible. I would like to submit that the toughest journey for many organizational leaders is none of these. After all, leaders of organizations are known for being high achievers and masters of their crafts, right? I have experienced and seen that the toughest journey for the vast majority of organizational leaders is a very short distance. In fact, for most adults it is only 18 inches….. It’s the distance from your head (brain) to your heart!
Leaders are taught to strategize, organize and to out manoeuver the competition. We develop checklists, make to do lists and have objectives. We measure, evaluate and calculate. All of these things are done with our head and some of us are pretty good at using our head. Yes, leaders are usually pretty intelligent too! The journey to being a great leader though is connecting with the heart. Great leaders do all the things I mentioned but they go further on their success journey. They connect the heart with the head.
Why is this important? Well the folks who never connect the brain with the heart are probably just ….. managers. You see, great leaders know that by connecting the heart you first have to realize you lead, people. People are not assets, they are not abstract things. People have feelings. They react to feelings. After all, where does passion, commitment and caring come from? It is not generated in the brain, it is generated in the heart. Do you want your team to be passionate about what they do? Do you want them to be committed to the vision and mission of the organization? Do you want them to care about the team and your customers/patients?
The first step to making this journey is the “want” of making it. You have to be willing to let go of just thinking. You have to be willing to open your heart to others. How can you instill or motivate passion, commitment and caring into those who follow you if you do not demonstrate it through your own actions?
One way to get great feedback from your team members is to stop asking them… “What do you think about that?” Instead, ask them.. “How do you feel about that?” You see, when we think, there is usually a right and wrong answer. Therefore, people to hesitate to tell you the truth because they want to tell you the right answer. On the other hand if you ask them… “How do you feel about that?” You tend to get more open and truthful answers because how we feel is our own. There is no right or wrong! It is how we, individually, feel.
Great artists do not paint or create masterpieces by “coloring by the numbers”. Great leaders do not take their teams to the next level of performance by “checking the boxes” either. Great artists and leaders feel their way to success. Until you learn to get in touch with your heart so you can feel the heartbeat of your team, you will just be another manager. So please, make that tough journey and open your heart for you and your team. After all, the trip is only 18 inches.
Until next time, peace.