Being a Heart Guy

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“There is a great cost when you neglect the human connection point in business.” –  Susan Steinbrecher, CEO, Steinbrecher And Associates, Inc.

I’m a firm believer in the human element in business and in life. After all, the reason we build things, make products, and provide services is for other people. Without “heart”, then we don’t need leaders–any old machine can do it. A colleague of mine once described himself as a “heart guy” when I asked him about his leadership style, and he surely lived up to that! We simply cannot forget leadership is about people first and foremost. While getting the mission accomplished is the raison d’etre  for leaders and teams to work together, there are very few endeavors that should consume the team on the way to the goal. Even the military where we understand the work may incur casualties or even deaths, we understand the need for people-centered leadership.

Ms Steinbrecher writes:

Leading from the heart is not just a nice idea or theory or some magical dream. By embracing a heart-centered approach to leadership, you will be in a more powerful position than you could possibly have imagined. After all, what can be more powerful than motivating an associate to go the distance for you and your organization because he or she is inspired by you and respects you so highly? More importantly, you will genuinely and deeply touch the lives of others by your actions.

I wrote something similar in Leading Leaders:

However, any successful style has to recognize the foundational truth that leadership is fundamentally a human problem. This means that leaders have to engage the people they’re leading and not treat them as if they were a math problem. We cannot treat people like machines, and we cannot ignore the fact that people have a basic need for affirmation and a sense of fair play.

In nearly 28 years of leading in the Air Force, and a lifetime of leading on the sports field and other arenas, I can attest to the truth that the accomplishments of which I’m most proud are when I’ve had a positive impact on another person. Helping others reach their goals is far more satisfying than reaching my own goals.  My hat’s off to Ms Steinbrecher and all the other “heart guys” out there–thank YOU for your leadership and care for your people!


The Army Has Heart

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Airmen atop Koko Head
PACAF Airmen atop Koko Head. Hawaii Kai, Oahu. 2014

Over at Small Wars Journal, there’s an article about the Head-Hands-Heart Leadership Model that fits hand-in-glove with my own “Leading Leaders” philosophy. It’s a thoughtful and well written article about the basics of leadership: know yourself, know your people, know where you’re going.

Leading people is a “whole person” kind of endeavor: we have to engage our mind and heart and body in the effort or we fail. Moreover, we have to understand we’re dealing with real people as well–not robots–and as leaders we need to engage their whole person. Sometimes leaders will make mistakes, nobody is perfect, so when that happens remember your humility and try again. The article from Small Wars Journal is a good way to think about how to engage in deliberate interpersonal leadership that’s applicable in any environment!

The Hands, Head and Heart Leadership Model | Small Wars Journal

The diverse nature of the relationships in an organization, as well as the complexity of problems faced emphasizes the three aspects of leadership education we previously described, as well as the concepts of training. The Hands, Head and Heart Model uses the ideas inherent in both training and education to describe a leadership model that fits in a diverse organizational setting. Training involves doing, applying, executing, and behaving. Figuratively, it is the “hands” of the model. By contrast, education is the knowing or thinking and represents the “head” of the model. It involves principles, doctrine, rules, and knowledge of the individual or organization. The third area of the model is the “heart,” or the becoming part. This involves the end state or vision. It is where values, beliefs, and purpose come into play. The Hands, Head and Heart Model fits exactly with the Army’s Be-Know-Do Model developed over 30 years ago.

Short week this week, so here’s wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!