Our pairings were pre-assigned and I ended up riding in a golf cart with Jed – an often prickly fellow who once worked for me.
After we’d played a few holes, Jed seemed genuinely interested in hearing what I was writing about and asked me between shots to give him a quick summary.
I don’t remember exactly, but I essentially told him that it’s inarguable our traditional approach to leading people is failing and that I believed we needed an entirely new model. I explained that I was advocating for bringing the heart back into leadership as a means of re-engaging America’s workers.
Ordinarily self-focused, Jed seemed quite intrigued by my ideas and inquisitively asked, “What does someone have to do in order to lead from their heart?”
“Basically,” I told him, “you need to do four things:
- Be impeccably disciplined when hiring.
- Connect personally with every person you manage and understand each one’s motivations and dreams.
- Develop, coach and encourage employees, and
- Routinely recognize and value their achievements.”
Jed pondered this information briefly before blurting out these words: “It sounds like when I’m through reading your book, I’m gonna say ‘duh’.”
To be more accurate what he said was, “duhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”
Now, just so you know, Jed is characteristically impudent and tends to rub people the wrong way.
But by inadvertently dismissing my ideas as being both utterly obvious and standard practice, he gave me the insight that others might jump to a similar conclusion. In other words, Jed isn’t the only one who has convinced themselves that they already lead this way.
But I can assure you, what should be a natural way of drawing out the best in people is anything but commonplace in the American workplace. Having watched Jed lead people, by the way, I can also tell you he’s not at all the model leader he currently perceives himself to be.
Here’s an idea for you to determine how close you are to being someone who truly leads from the heart. Reach out to several of your employees and tell them that you’re seeking ideas on how to become a more effective leader. Give them a few days to ponder these three questions:
- “Am I doing enough as a leader to identify your career and growth goals and to helping you achieve them?”
- “Do you consistently feel valued and appreciated for the work you do?”
- “Do I do enough to communicate how your work and accomplishments affect the success of our team and organization?”
Meet with people personally to do this, of course. My sense is that even if you’re already a terrific leader, you’ll discover you can become even more effective by acting upon all you learn. Duh!
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