Despite what we’ve been told, doing the work to develop our leadership is truly a connection between heart and head.
You don’t just think your way through into effective, aware, inclusive leadership – you also need to feel.
This might be unexpected – to lead in tough times we are trained to respond as we always have – with our brains. We hatch plans, try and figure stuff out, make a strategy, get some tips, and learn some tricks to try and get through it. We think being clever is the only way. We distrust the way our feelings make us feel.
But this isn’t working out so well for us. We are exhausted. We are barely hanging on, and we are running out of energy and inspiration.
Heart in leadership is essential, and we’re not good at it – it feels so uncomfortable! Feelings – like inadequacy, hesitancy, vulnerability, fear, uncertainty – come up and we try to override them.
Yet, in my experience, real breakthroughs come when we are thinking clearly AND open and vulnerable with our feelings.
We can’t divorce the way we lead from our heart – to do so will keep us stunted and frozen. Those inadequacies or concerns we try to ignore will stick around as the unseen driver in our decisions. Without acknowledging them, they run us. Without heart, leading only with your head can become manipulative, cunning, cold, and closed.
To elevate your leadership and have more impact you’ll need courage to delve beneath the surface. Owning your humanity is part of this – the all of you – not just the bits you manicure for show. Your humanity is a beautiful, precious thing. For real change to happen, you can’t shame or hide the bits you feel aren’t acceptable. If you do so, they’ll only seep out in ways that will rob you of your power and impact.
I know of what I write. When I became the CEO of The Hunger Project Australia I tried to lead through strategy and numbers alone because I thought that was expected of me. Yet I was like a bird flying with one wing – always going in circles. Opening myself up to my passion, fire, inspiration – and – my uncertainties, hesitancies and feelings of imposter – were key to me soaring. My humanity became my biggest asset. It took deep personal work to get this though – all my conditioning was around keeping it hidden and only showing the brilliant parts. This is true for most of us.
I work with so many leaders now and there is huge pressure to operate only from thier head. To know – or act like you do. To show no hesitancy. This is such an old old way that we’ve internalised as normal and even aspirational. Yet it is not effective. No true progress will be sustained – in your life, your team, your world – without encouraging and cultivating the openness and heart that draws upon our full humanity.
For leading in difficult times, our feelings and our thinking must be co-equal guides.
Till next week,