Lead with Your Heart (and your feet)

Happy early Valentine’s Day!

“It might sound bizarre, but one of the beliefs for effective leadership is to be madly in love with all the people you’re leading.” –  Ken Blanchard

While I was on the Awakened World Global Pilgrimage last year, I found it fascinating when our guide shared his belief that the Egyptian Pharaohs are depicted with their left foot forward to symbolize leading with the heart.

Albertis-Window.com supports this notion that Egyptians believed “you step with the left foot to trod out evil, so the heart can proceed,” and that the “left side, where the heart resides, is the house of will, emotions & consciousness, the center of life itself.”  

Certainly, there’s been quite a bit of research to support the idea that emotionally connected employees perform better. It makes sense, because when we lead from the heart, we can experience what Benjamin Zander refers to as “shining eyes” in those around us.

Seeing with our heart

I often get brought in to help nonprofits with their “disengaged and dysfunctional” board that “doesn’t like to fundraise.”  I begin with the assumption that everyone in the room cares and wants to make a difference, and it’s my job to help them find the words to express why they feel that way.   Instead of focusing soley on roles and responsibilities, best practices or the proverbial “everyone write down 3 people you know that could be contacted for a donation,” I aim to reveal what they would each like to be celebrating at the end of their fiscal year, and why that matters so much to them. Through a series of questions and exercises that connect them to their heart, I’ve witnessed deep emotions come to the surface as the group connects to their impact, how they can help and make a difference, and more fully understand the value they bring.  And, the “disengaged” begin leaning in, confident, and ready to take action.

Of course, we know that to be an effective leader, we do need to do more than just ‘tap into our feelings’. We must be in tune with our emotions so that we can inspire others, and choose the behaviors and embodied actions that will lead to our organization’s desired outcomes.

In other words, we must lead with our heart…AND then move our feet.

Each time I begin to lead an organization through transition as a professional Interim CEO, I seek out the successes, strengths, wisdom, caring, and I acknowledge and build upon them (and trust me – during times of transition, often people can be much more aware of failures, weaknesses, and be disconnected and fearful.).  By focusing on both individual and organizational impact and contribution, as well as creating shared and clearly articulated goals, my experience is that revenue increases (often at unprecedented levels), staff and board feel pride and ownership, stakeholders feel a new-found excitement, and positive momentum builds.  

Regardless of whether you work for a mission-driven non-profit, run a heart-centered business, or volunteer in your community, here are 3 Guiding Questions to Help You Lead with Your Heart.  As you work on all your pressing deadlines, ask yourself:

  1. What will I choose to do to show I am opening my heart to those around me? Specifically:
  • What can I do and what can I say to help others be their best and do their best work?
  • How can I help them to lighten their load? 
  • How can I let them know they are seen and heard, and valued?
  • How can I help them get connected to the larger vision I see?
  1. When I am frustrated with someone, what would be possible if I choose to assume that they really do want to do a good job, and ask them “how can I help?”
  2. What strategies will I choose to create to ensure I am fully present, so that I can enroll and engage, connect and inspire?

ARE you confident enough and brave enough to lead…from the heart?

If so, I’m here and ready to champion you!

To your success,


P.S. – Are you at an important crossroads in your career?  Are you feeling stuck or boxed in or frustrated?  STAY TUNED FOR A BIG ANNOUNCEMENT later this month – I’m launching my first-ever self-paced online program just for you!

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  1. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR KIN ASSISTANCE.I would like to learn a lot from you so as to get insight to a better leading approach.

  2. Great piece Kathryn;
    I’m right handed but left leg dominant so little bits of Life’s jigsaw fall in place.
    More Power to You.


    • beautiful. let your insights continue to guide you. you’re on to something! Thank you for sharing this with me! – kathryn

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