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Leading from the Heart

I recently saw the film “Wonder Woman” and was completely transfixed. Diana Price (aka Wonder Woman) embodied many of the leadership traits that I aspire to – being brave, gentle, direct, truthful, and compassionate. She ran towards conflict (literally) and was tenacious in her convictions. She spoke out for those who did not have a voice and unapologetically led from the heart. Leading from the heart is what resonated with me the most.

What does leading from the heart look like at work? For me, it’s about being of service to others with humility, authenticity and kindness. It’s about using my power for good.

We have been given the false notion that power is bad–that it is something we use to exert our will upon others. In fact, when our personal power is intact, we are neither overbearing nor meek. We have a clear sense of our strength and the impact we can have on others. This actually enables us to be more sensitive. There is no reason to be afraid or ashamed of fully owning your power. – Madyson Taylor

In a Paychex Survey conducted in 2016, one of the primary reasons people leave their jobs is because they do not feel cared for/about. How ironic it is that so many companies consider themselves and their co-workers “family” yet few are willing to talk about how love shows up. What is family without some underlying sense of love? Aside from blood, love is the tie that binds.

I speak often about courage and emotional intelligence for leaders and invariably introduce a mindful component which highlights compassion and forgiveness for ourselves and others. At work, we call it “resilience”, “empathy”, and “transparency”. These concepts are steeped in love and kindness. People are just as hungry for this at work as they are at home.

Over the last years I have incorporated a loving-kindness meditation practice into my professional life. Loving-kindness meditation involves mentally sending feelings of goodwill and kindness towards others by silently repeating a series of mantras. We start with ourselves (which explains why it is called a practice!) and then put it out to others. This practice builds compassion at work as it reminds us that we are all beginners no matter what level in an organization we are. We have never been in this exact situation before. We have little control. We make mistakes. We have to forgive ourselves, pay attention to how we feel in our bodies and begin again. And again. And again.

Kindness is a strength, as it is a vital part of being humans in a compassionate society – Martin Seligman 

Kindness reflects strength of character – an individual who has a strong identity and is secure enough to put him/herself to a side and make room for others. When we are more compassionate towards ourselves, it becomes easier to be kinder to others. Some ways that loving-kindness shows up at work:

1. Radical listening
2. Asking thoughtful questions
3. Smiling at another person
4. Attributing people’s behavior to the situation they are in, rather than who they are
5. Being truly happy for someone else’s success

As the lines between personal and professional life continue to blend, it’s critical to recognize that the new tools we embrace to make us better leaders are in fact the same ones that will make us better humans.

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