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Leading with heart

It is February 2023 - the month that includes Valentine's Day, so I thought it only right to write about the importance of Leading with Heart. In my book The Henka Effect I had the immense pleasure of interviewing the great Mark C Crowley as well as Jeff Kaplan who are the most incredible thought leaders in this space. Leading with heart is a style of leadership that encapsulates building trust, fostering collaboration, and inspiring motivation. It is a style of leadership that seeks to bring out the best in people and to create a culture of respect, acceptance, and appreciation. It is a style of leadership that encourages an environment of growth and development.

By leading with heart, leaders can create a meaningful and productive work environment, while also inspiring those they lead to reach their full potential. This kind of leadership takes time, energy, and dedication, but the rewards are immense. I have seen this firsthand with The Henka Institute and fts global, what a lasting impact leading with heart has on organisations. Through leading with heart, leaders can create a lasting impact not only on the people they work with but on the organisation as a whole.

What are the benefits of leading with heart?


Trust is a foundation for any relationship, and it’s essential for leading with the heart. I found in my experience that when you lead with heart, you show your team that you respect and trust them. By trusting your people, they will be more willing to follow your lead and trust their own judgment. This creates a culture of trusting feedback and encourages employees to be open and honest with one another. Trust also helps to remove barriers to communication and decision-making, which can help to ensure that decisions are made in the best interests of the whole team organisation. As a leader, you need to build trust with your team on an ongoing basis.


When people feel trusted and accepted, they are more likely to accept and value decisions. This leads to more freedom within an organisation. I have seen that people who have more freedom are more likely to be creative, innovative, and open to new ideas.


I have seen when people accept and value decisions and trust feedback from their colleagues, they are more likely to collaborate with them. This will lead to more collaboration, as people are more likely to accept the ideas of others and believe that others have good intentions. Collaboration also leads to a more open environment, as people are more likely to accept other people’s ideas.

What characteristics do a leader need to have to Lead with Heart?


Leaders who lead with heart are open to receiving feedback, critique, and suggestions. They are willing to hear the concerns of their employees and make adjustments to address them. This of course works both ways, when a leader is more receptive to feedback, it allows team members to feel like they can be open to feedback as well.


Leaders who lead with heart are honest and transparent. They are authentic and genuine, and people know who their leader is as a person, what their values are and what they stand for. These types of leaders are also willing to give recognition and praise to the people who deserve it as well as constructive criticism.


I have found that vulnerability is an exceptionally crucial factor when leading with the heart. Leaders who lead with heart are curious. They are interested in others, want to understand them, and want to get to know them. They are not afraid to ask questions and are not afraid to be vulnerable.


Leaders who lead with heart are courageous. They are not afraid to go beyond the rules or act on intuition and go with their gut. They are not afraid of failure, taking risks or experimenting with new things. This can help to keep organisations innovative and open to new ideas. This courageousness filters through organisations which creates incredible results.

What are the challenges?

Leading with heart isn’t a surefire way to guarantee success and it is not something that comes naturally to everyone. It takes time, effort, energy, motivation and risk and it isn’t a quick fix that can be done in a single day. Leaders need to commit to the long-term effort, consistency and changes in behaviour in order to build trust, improve the work environment and cultivate collaboration within the team.

Leading with heart is not that hard, however, it without a doubt does take courage. If you are thinking this is all too fluffy and emotional —know that there are huge business benefits to this too. The truth is that the best work we have ever achieved in our lives is with human beings that we have cared about and within the surroundings that permit us to thrive and be our authentic selves.

"Long after you remember the actual work or the targets you met along the way, what's sustained in your memory is the effect you had on people's lives. By this one measure above all others, you'll know the true impact you had as a leader." - Mark Crowley

How are you Leading with Heart?


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