The following is adapted from F*ck the Glass Ceiling: Start at the Top (and Stay There) as a Feminine Entrepreneur.
For decades, business books have asked leaders to memorize sets of rules or dogmas as to how we should think or act to be successful. In doing so, in some aspects, we’ve become subservient to the logical part of the brain and have become disconnected from the world of feelings.
This type of thinking causes the mind of the average leader to become a right/wrong judgment machine, which kills inspiration, happiness, vitality, connection, and love. To try to do everything the “right way” is a colossal waste of life force. When you approach problems purely from a linear perspective instead of opening yourself up to synchronicity, ease, and grace, it takes ten or twenty times longer to reach goals.
Human beings are not machines. As a leader, if you want to get the most out of your team, you can’t program them to achieve results. You must inspire them. You must lead with love, though that’s easier said than done.
The Challenges of Heart-Centered Leadership
When it comes to business, a heart-centered leader respects all people, not just profits, while still meeting the stringent standards required in the game of business. When a heart-centered leader interacts with others, she (or he) leads with love. It’s a challenging mission and one that often goes unacknowledged and unappreciated by the larger world.
Being heart-centered coincides with the newest trends in influencing people, but an online search of business and government leaders known as heart-centered, loving, or kind yields almost no results. Our current media-driven culture’s divisive, vitriolic atmosphere makes heart-centered leaders want to remain in the background.
You would think heart-centered leaders don’t exist, but it’s more likely they just aren’t being recognized as such. These leaders often go unrecognized as actual leaders and are more often simply known as a “public figure.” Think Maya Angelou, Brené Brown, Arianna Huffington, and so on.
On top of being underappreciated, heart-centered leadership is difficult. Leading with love isn’t a passive, acquiescent activity. It takes passion and a fire in your belly to get people to suspend habitual ways of thinking and align with your big-picture vision. In addition to leading, you also have to reliably and systematically deal with your own demons of doubt or dysfunction.
Whether you have let someone go for the good of the organization or you’re promoting someone and enhancing their life, leading with love is a job that requires fierce commitment. It doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be loved in return. It’s a form of integrity in which you take on a complex web of simultaneous needs that are in the best interest of your employees, yourself, your clients, and even your suppliers.
In other words, to lead with love, you have to be a badass motherf*cker.
The Rewards of Heart-Centered Leadership
Leading with love is challenging, but the rewards are worth it. As a heart-centered leader, you have the power to change, not just your business results but lives.
As human beings growing up and growing older, via pain, trauma, loss, and so on, developing fragmented parts of ourselves is unavoidable. As a result of these wounds, we tend to attract the same repeating patterns again and again.
At work, we are often put into situations where we end up in a state of fight or flight, which means the work environment is one of the places where these repeating patterns frequently emerge, not only for you as the leader but for all of your employees. These are opportunities for healing.
As a leader, you’re in a unique position to coach your team through these situations and help them metabolize their lower-mind instincts to protect, defend, fight, or flee. You can walk them up the ladder of conscious awareness to confront these perceived threats with rational responses. You can help them heal by bringing new thinking to their repeating patterns.
When facing their wounds, people are naturally defensive, so rules and logic won’t work. The key to this healing is to lead with love. Use the word “love” with them, tell them you love them all (in a group setting), and well…just be love. Love the diversity and uniqueness offered by your employees, clients, and suppliers. When a team member does something great, tell that person, “I love what you’re doing and what you’re providing to this company (or project).”
With healing love, you can better your employees’ lives, which gives them space and the ability to be more effective at work.
The Power of Love
Leading with love sometimes feels illogical, but it’s highly effective. If humans were able to be programmed, love would be our source code (like the code that makes up a computer’s operating system) for bringing out the best in ourselves and our teams.
Leading with love is what transforms a business into a path of personal evolution for both you and your team. It’s a difficult, sometimes thankless pursuit, but you can achieve incredible results without sacrificing people for profits as a heart-centered leader.
For more advice on leading with love, you can find F*ck the Glass Ceiling on Amazon.
Mandy Cavanaugh’s passion for leadership, entrepreneurship, and helping people thrive has fueled her roles as CEO, consultant, and facilitator. Her businesses have spanned global lodging logistics, land development, manufacturing, corporate leadership seminars, and turnaround consulting. Mandy succeeds in highly competitive environments by connecting each of her team members to their best future self. She holds various coaching certifications and has conducted seminars on high performance, authentic success, conscious language, imagination activation, conflict resolution, corporate soul retrieval, CEO-ship for start-ups, sales, team building, and wealth wisdom for women.