The Importance of Leading with Your Head and Your Heart

Too much of anything is never good for us. Too much food, too much TV, too much sun, too much wine, too much work, and yes, even too much play. While all of these examples are okay, they each require balance; any of them can be harmful in excess.

The same is true in leading only with your head or your heart. Leaders who lead only with their head can seem unemotional or uncaring about the unique qualities each teammate brings to the team. They don’t know their teammates well, and they aren’t intuitive about how to excite or motivate the team. They expect you to work because you’re paid to work.

On the other side, those who lead only with their heart can seem overly emotional, with the leader basing their decisions on whether or not someone’s feelings may get hurt. That often results in the leader avoiding conflict. Heart-only leaders are good at motivating the team, but they can’t back up their motivation with direction and strategy.

Leading with the Head and the Heart

Of course, head leaders and heart leaders each bring very needed qualities to their position.

Head leaders are great at creating a strategy and a plan, setting goals, following a budget, and holding their team accountable to the plan’s actions and processes. They know how to create systems that can equip and help a team work more efficiently, and they’re good at predicting and avoiding possible pitfalls. Leading with your head is about competence and knowledge.

Heart leaders are great at making their people feel special. They understand the unique contributions each teammate brings to the team because they take the time to get to know each teammate personally. Using your heart in leadership means you love your people, and you are able to rally a team around a vision and motivate them to perform at higher levels. Heart leaders are flexible when needed and can easily connect to a person’s feelings and passions. They care about their teammates’ happiness and about their dreams and welfare. Leading with your heart is about care and connection.

Flexing Your Head & Heart Leadership

Now put the head and the heart together and consider the atmosphere. Wow! You have a dynamic team that is inspired to perform at high standards because they want to, and they are clear on the direction.

Leaders who are blessed with the ability to lead with their head and their heart know when to use each under different conditions. When the economy is down and things get rocky, the leader leans to his head and checks for accountability and necessary changes in strategy while giving the team firm direction. When the team’s tail is dragging because of an unexpected disappointment or loss, then the leader leans to his heart and rallies the people to reconnect their actions to the vision.

Our goal as leaders should be to have a healthy combination of the head and the heart when we lead. As we grow our leadership skills we will become better at understanding when to use each.

And for my sales buddies out there, this same philosophy is true in our sales process. Connect with your client as a person, not as gross margin. Express your passion and care about how your performance impacts their performance. Then back up what you say with competence and performance. If you falter and let them down, get your head in the game quick and fix it. Your heart connection will earn you a second chance to perform again.

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