Leading with Heart [6/21/22] : A book review by Bob Morris

Leading with Heart: Five Conversations That Unlock Creativity, Purpose, and Results
John Baird and Edward Sullivan
HarperBusiness/An Imprint of HarperCollins (2022)

“People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Theodore Roosevelt

John Baird and Edward Sullivan selected questions to serve as titles of the first five of six chapters, questions that every executive must be able to answer candidly:

o What do you need to be at your best?
o Which fears are holding you back?
o Which desires drive you, and which might derail you?
o What are your greatest gifts?
o What is your purpose?

Also, make every effort to understand WHY.

Baird and Sullivan: “Together, these five deceptively simple conversations are designed to give you and your team insight into what makes both [begin itakics] you [end italics] tick [begin itakics] they [end italics] tick.”

They view the five as questions that help to reveal the core principles of “Leading with Heart.” Responses to them can — indeed SHOULD — guide and inform the difficult decisions to be made. Moreover, they are questions that help an executive to interact much more effectively with associates, especially direct reports.

I agree with Baird and Sullivan that many (if not most) people make a serious mistake when embracing what Baird and Sullivan characterize as the “work/life myth.” That is, there is a work self and a home self “and never the twain shall meet.” They duly acknowledge that psychological divisions between work and home, between a professional career and personal life, “can create an atmosphere of focus, discipline, and productivity — which is one reason why the military has uniforms — they also send an overarching message: It’s not okay to be yourself at work. As a result, most of us psychologically suit up before going to work.”

What about leadership? “The Truth of the matter is that leading with heart, which is really leading with empathy, has never been more important…And leaders who are unable to have conversations that show they can empathize with the daily experience of their employees and instead ask when the accounts receivable report will be done are the ones who are seeing higher turnover and lower morale. Your people are suffering. Stop talking about work and start talking about what they need to feel resourceful again, what gifts they have that are going unexpressed in this role. At the core of leading with is coaching leaders to listen and hear through conversation. [begin italics] Too many leaders listen in order to respond rather than listen to hear. [end italics] Start leading with heart.”

I presume to add two final points. First, major studies based on exit interviews indicate that [begin italics] not feeling appreciated [end italics] is ranked at or near the top of the list of reasons why highly valued employees have “fired” one company and will soon go to work for another.

Also, it is no coincidence that companies annually ranked among those that are most highly admired and best to work for are also annually ranked among those that are the most profitable and have the greatest cap value in their industry segment. However different they may be in most respects, all of them have leadership with heart at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise.


Posted in

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.