While we might consider the time in which we’re all living a more enlightened age, the word “heart” still carries a lot of negative associations when it comes to workplace leadership.

Tied to traditional leadership wisdom, we cling to the belief that caring and supportive management is an inherently weak idea that cannot drive productivity – and so we go on leading in old & less effective ways.

But recent scientific discoveries prove our understanding of how to most effectively motivate human performance is patently wrong.

More to the point, new science shows the heart plays a profound role in influencing human behavior – and that workplace managers who care about, nurture and proactively support their people can expect to be rewarded with unimaginable productivity and success in return.

For nearly three decades, the Institute of HeartMath has been researching the human heart – an organ many people believe is just a pump that circulates blood throughout our bodies.

Led by its chief researcher and co-founder, Dr. Rollin McCraty, HeartMath has discovered that the heart is actually a source of great intelligence that plays an enormous role in shaping our choices and decisions.  And the feelings and emotions that people experience every day at work actually have a major impact on determining their level of engagement, commitment and initiative.

While many managers remain convinced that managing with some degree of fear and stress is a potent way of achieving goals, HeartMath’s research proves they couldn’t be more wrong.  As Rollin McCraty thoroughly explains in this podcast, when people repeatedly experience negative emotions, their cognitive effectiveness instinctively shuts down. They make poor choices and have less energy to commit to the job at hand.

Yes, it’s a huge paradigm change to think that organizations that put the needs of employees first – before those of customers, managers and shareholders – could be a winning formula.  But the science that proves it has become irrefutable.

In addition to his work at HeartMath, Rollin McCraty is a professor at Florida Atlantic University.  His team has done joint research projects with Stanford University, Claremont Graduate University and several other universities around the world. His work has been featured on CNN, ABC World News Tonight, NBC’s Today Show and the Discovery Channel. And his studies have appeared in numerous scientific journals in addition to well-known publications including Prevention, Natural Health, Men’s Fitness and American Health.

After you finish listening to this podcast, you’ll be convinced that the idea of leading from the heart isn’t just the wisest thing a leader can do – it represents the future of workplace leadership.

By Mark C. Crowley

Mark C. Crowley is the author of Lead From The Heart: Transformational Leadership For The 21st Century which has been taught in 11 American universities. He is a global speaker, leadership consultant and thought leader on the topics of workplace culture and employee engagement.