I encounter three kinds of leaders. Those who lead from their heart, those who lead from their head and those who lead from both. Let me explain.

Heart leaders have very tender hearts and because of it everyone loves them. They are like chaplains to their staff and they don't want anyone to be unhappy. When someone is, they want to solve it. 

There is, however, a significant downside to those who lead only from their heart. First, their "chaplaincy" role can get in the way of their leadership and supervisory role. Second, in their desire to make everyone happy they easily agree to things that are not in the best interests of the organization as a whole and may in fact be unfair to others in the organization (when preference is given). Third, they find it hard to make tough choices that impact people because their strongest bent is not to cause anyone unhappiness. And fourth, they often ignore issues that require confrontation since they are deeply conflict adverse. 

The irony is that over time, a leader who leads primarily from their heart creates a dysfunctional organization rather than the healthy one they think they are creating because of their sensitive heart. 

Then there is the leader who leads only from his/her head. They are all facts, policies, figures, and bottom line. Often they will make decisions that may be right but in ways that hurt people. There is no margin for compassion or flexibility on issues that they could be flexible on. The downside is evident. There is not a spirit of empathy or compassion, individual needs are not addressed even when they could be and process is not a high priority so that even good decisions are carried out in a way that disempower people. This style of leadership can be as dysfunctional as the first style, just for opposite reasons.

There is a third option that is far healthier than these two and that is to lead from both our hearts and our head. Here we are committed to always doing the right thing (not meaning the easy thing) but in a way that honors people and takes their concerns into account. In this leadership style we take people's issues into account but at the same time do not do for one what we would be unwilling to do for another and do not show favoritism! Nor do we ignore personnel or work issues because we don't want to make others feel bad. That is simply leadership default and while it may feel fair it is really unfair to everyone else in the organization.

Heart/Head leadership makes these commitments:

  • I will always take into account the legitimate concerns of my staff
  • I will be flexible to meet their needs without showing favoritism or extending to one what I would not extend to another all things being equal
  • I will make decisions that are best for the organization as a whole but be deeply sensitive to how those decisions impact people and are carried out
  • I will foster a caring, collegial workplace where people genuinely matter and where we are committed to accomplishing the mission God has given us
  • I will do all I can to honor staff in the accomplishment of our mission, even when changes need to be made
Since all of us are wired toward either heart or head leadership, having people around us who can balance out our bent is helpful and important. Both matter!

  • Sep 06, 2012
  • Category: News
  • Comments: 0
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