How Can We Lead From Our Hearts While Navigating Uncertainty?
Photo by Atharva Tulsi on Unsplash.
Article created in collaboration with the podcast participants, AcornOak Tribe and Alyssa Carrow, Junior Marketer and Copywriter Intern.
Pass the Mic Podcast Series is an unscripted group discussion born out of AcornOak’s belief in the power of many voices.
Each episode begins with one question asked of a small group of 4 to 6 open-minded and passionate individuals who explore complex and difficult concepts with curiosity, uncertain beliefs, and the willingness to objectively listen and learn from the shared insights of others.
In our thirteenth episode, our guests discuss leadership and how we can choose to lead from the heart, especially through chaos and uncertainty.
Starting the Conversation
As the podcast host, Virginie Glaenzer paved the way for this conversation led by Mark Crowley, author of Lead From The Heart: Transformational Leadership For The 21st Century.
Welcoming Our Guests
We were honored to welcome our panel of special guests eager to discuss the ways one can lead from the heart.
Mark C. Crowley is the bestselling author of the book Lead From The Heart: Transformational Leadership for the 21st Century. Mark is a leadership consultant and speaker with the goal to change how we lead and manage people in the workplace. He believes that the workplace should be more supportive of human needs.
Rúna Bouius is the founder and CEO of Klassík (a wholesaler of cosmetics) which she started when she was only 23 years old. During 20 years as CEO at Klassík, Rúna evolved into a “Conscious Leader.” Now based in Los Angeles she is the founder of the True Power Institute and co-founder of social platforms such as the “Conscious Capitalism LA Chapter.”
Lisa Gill is an organizational self-management coach and Reimaginaire. She is an accredited trainer for Tuff Leadership Training. Lisa helps companies become self-managing entities. She facilitates leadership courses in a more adult-adult coaching style of leadership. Lisa also hosts the Leadermorphosis podcast, where she interviews thought leaders and practitioners from all walks of life.
Patrick Kilcline Novak is the Chief Empowerment Officer & Founder of Trident Strategies. Patrick has over 16 years of experience in the Department of Defense (DoD) and other military contracting environments. He is passionate about empowering leaders to be their best. Patrick is a graduate of the US Naval Academy.
Listen to the tour de table introduction of our participants.
Key Shared Insights & Perspectives
Historically, conventional wisdom stated that people didn’t want to work and managers had to impose a set of rules that forced workers to increase productivity levels and meet deadlines.
Our unscripted discussion revolved around two majors themes: a new leadership consciousness emerging from individuals embarking on personal journeys and the need to install new systems and managers to adapt to new leadership values.
A New Leadership Consciousness is Emerging
Our Heart is Our Sensing Organ
The word “heart” in the context of leadership has a heavy charge to it and will carry either a positive or negative connotation. Yet, our human heart is a feeling, sensing organ, and it guides us to find trust and the environments where we feel psychologically safe and supported.
Throughout time, we have survived using collaboration and cooperation and, in times of crisis, leading from the heart becomes vital. Going back to our pre-industrial roots and the essence of who we are as humans, we notice an embedded spirituality aspect to working together.
Listen to Mark Crowley sharing what leading from the heart means to him.
The New Leadership Model is Heart
Over the last century, leadership models have been closely tied to our industrial needs, reflecting the mindset of leaders and the assumptions they made at the time. According to Prof. Julian Birkinshaw from the London Business School, we have witnessed how “the sources of competitive advantage are changing, from the industrial era to the knowledge era to the post-knowledge era”, which he describes as the Hand, the Head, and the Heart.
During the industrial revolution, manual labor was a priority and managers just needed bodies to get the work done. This Hand phase saw managers leading with an iron fist, forcing their workers to do the menial work. Micromanagement was commonplace during this era because the workers didn’t want to do the work unless they were forced.
The information revolution, known as the Head phase, was the data and knowledge phase. During this time, the more knowledge a person had, the more valuable they became. Companies wanted intelligence because information was capital.
Today, the business world is moving towards the Heart phase, where leaders must be emotionally intelligent to adapt and navigate complex situations.
Leading from the heart requires qualities similar to the sacred leaders from the Aboriginal culture who were chosen because of their humility, compassion, and their capacity to resolve conflicts.
Listen to Lisa Gill describing the three leadership phases.
Leaderships Becomes an Opportunity to Go Inward
Nowadays, mindfulness has become mainstream and is greatly influencing business leadership practices.
As leaders, we are invited to go inward to explore our inner guidance system. In shamanism and ancient wisdom, the notion of circular leadership is centered on wholeness, which integrates heart, mind, and gut.
When people begin to identify their feelings or experiment with meditation, they bring ancient wisdom and awakening into their leadership. This consciousness phase furthers their evolution toward inward leadership. The question is, will they be awake enough to realize it?
Listen to Rúna Bouius share her experience in her own practice.
Changing Our Systems
The Caring Gene
According to a Gallup Poll, only 30 percent of the world's population have the “caring gene” which means the success, happiness, and the well-being of other people matter to them. It’s imperative for current leaders to adapt to an emerging set of leadership values which require them to do the difficult inner work to learn about themselves.
Some leaders, however, just don't have the wiring to be the caring support managers we need them to become. Introspective exercises, such as listing one’s personal values, writing one’s own obituary, and identifying the people and things that have had positive and negative impacts on one’s life are helpful tactics, but they require self-awareness and the desire to change.
If managers resist efforts to promote advocacy, they must be eliminated to make room for better candidates.
Listen to Mark Crowley share his perceptive.
A Humanless Economy In Need of Disruption
Our practice of growing a business by exploiting as much value as possible from employees and suppliers needs radical disruption. Companies built on this principle, such as Amazon and Walmart, show a complete disregard for human beings on every level. This abusive power model has created a winners-and-losers economy.
A more human-centric approach is to value purpose alongside profit.
Business leaders can embrace a broader vision of their responsibilities by looking beyond the financial interests of their shareholders and aiming to do well and good at the same time.
Listen to our speakers presenting alternative models. Patrick discusses the idea of bringing humans back into business.
Rúna describes how Holo, a cloud-computing hosting market, offers to put computing-power into the hands of individuals and businesses with a new invention never before seen in the World. She shares how investing her time with the Coventina Foundation is aligned with her personal values. with a new invention never before seen in the World.
Before we wrapped our discussion and moved to our next question, Patrick shared a footnote story about encountering Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, and Colin Powell having a private dinner. He leaves us with a question:
Can peer pressure result in changes in leadership?
How Can We Lead from the Heart?
Lisa reminded us that all leaders have blind spots and must surround themselves with people who can challenge their views and encourage the growth and development of new heart muscles.
Listen to Lisa Gill sharing her perspectives on becoming a leader from the heart.
As we came at the end of the hour, our group concluded the discussion in the same way we started, with a tour de table. Each participant had the opportunity to reflect on what they heard and share their take-aways from the conversation.
Listen to the last 10 minutes of the episode.
Final Thoughts to Consider
Few current leaders were selected based on the idea of sacred leadership which chooses individuals based on their humility, compassion, and their desire to resolve conflicts.
Rethinking leadership and leading from our hearts is a personal choice that starts with asking ourselves difficult questions, an opportunity that Runa calls inward leadership.
Being comfortable with not knowing and constructively helping others bring forth their collective knowledge, involves letting go of control and accepting possible rejection.
To unlearn the lessons learned from institutions and previous role models, we must start with our heartfelt intentions:
What kind of leader do we want to become?
Why do we think we can be a good leader?
What type of culture do we want to create?
These questions are foundational as we bring people from various backgrounds together and create a common set of values. When business leaders value purpose alongside profit, they look beyond shareholders’ interest and embrace a broader vision of their responsibilities, a vision that aims to do well by doing good.
We now know that companies embracing a broader mission — and, importantly, integrating that purpose into their corporate culture — outperform their peers, grow faster, and deliver higher profits.