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Leading from the heart

Opinion & Analysis
Form a political point of view, we easily like or love people that seem to exude the so-called power

IN leadership, there are three things to consider; the head, hand and heart. In those three, one thing that seems to be forgotten most of the times is the heart. The head denotes thinking; the hand speaks to doing and the heart points to how we treat people — empathy and sympathy. 

Form a political point of view, we easily like or love people that seem to exude the so-called power. Those who seem to be sympathetic are deemed to be weak.

Hence, the late leadership guru, Warren Bennis in his book Why Leaders Can’t Lead (1989: 112-113) said: “The fact is that there are so many predicaments, too many grievances, too many ironies, polarities, dichotomies, dualities, ambivalences, paradoxes, contradictions, confusions, complexities, and messes, and so we naturally incline toward people with answers — without even bothering to wonder what the questions, the real questions, are. But until we begin asking the right questions, we cannot possibly come with right answers. Rather than trying to figure out the questions, however, we accept any answer, no matter how spurious, or find a convenient villain.”

Sometimes as leaders or talented individuals, we might want to believe that we need people once and that is the end goal. The fact of life is that we need people in every turn of the way. This is true even in business.

“No matter how successful you are, no matter how important or accomplished, you need people. That’s why you need to let them know that you cannot win without them. President Woodrow Wilson said, ‘We should not only use all the brains we have, but all that we can borrow’.” (American author, speaker and pastor John Maxwell in the book The Maxwell Daily Reader, 2007: 31). Here are some truths we should consider in leading from the heart:

Value others

People need to be recognised and must be made to feel valued by the leader. Dreams, visions and objectives are fulfilled when we involve and most importantly value people. At times as leaders, we tend not to value, but use people.

When people feel valued at an organisation they work, they usually do their best to add more value to that organisation. The higher we go the corporate ladder, the more we need other people.

However that is when we might be misled to think that all the power is in our hands. We need to appreciate and value other people’s contributions and opinions.

Being open

Openness is one critical ingredient to gain trust. Be open about your personal vulnerabilities. This makes people see that you are human enough and they will be willing to open up to you.

It is always easy to work in an open-spirited atmosphere. When you are not open, you close yourself from valuable contributions. Be open to learn from others. Learners are leaders and leaders are learners.

Accept others

We are different in our unique ways. These differences make humanity diverse and life spicy. We have this inclination to think that people should be like us in their persona and perspectives, but that has never been the case. As leaders, we need to accept people and their weaknesses.

I always say that we are all sinners, needing to be accepted. The other leaders need to accept that some people are more talented. They should not feel threatened to have more talented people in their teams. Some leaders would want to thwart or suppress more talented people, rather than simply accept them.

Respect others

Every person deserves respect. It has been said that respect for ourselves guides our morals. Respect for others guides our manners. Respect for others determines how we treat them. If you treat people with respect, it becomes easy for them to reciprocate.

Give people attention

Everyone needs attention. It feels great to be recognised. Recognise and reward others. The late American author, salesman, and motivational speaker Hilary Hinton “Zig” Ziglar once said: “Research indicates that employees have three prime needs: Interesting work, recognition for doing a good job and being let in on things that are going on in the company”.

Parting point: Leadership is an opportunity to serve humanity. Leadership is a partnership with other people and as a result, the greatest asset needing attention are people. If you fail in dealing with people, you would have failed in leadership. The easiest way to influence people is your ability get their attention, respect them, gain their trust, be open to them and accept and value them.

  • Jonah Nyoni is an author, speaker, and leadership trainer. He can be contacted on X @jonahnyoni. WhatsApp: +263 772 581 918

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