There are many leadership styles. Yet, we raise questions about how to define what it means to lead people to success.
In business, the ‘traditional’ leadership style was first defined by German sociologist, Max Weber who believed authority was fixed to the office you held. A strict hierarchy built around bureaucracy (the power of office) with a defined division of labour and a clear command structure.
Many businesses carry this legacy that authority belongs to the leader. Communication is strictly up and down the hierarchy and individuals find it difficult to get their ideas heard or to contribute effectively.
Fast forward to today, and we don’t live in Weber’s world. Younger generations coming into the workplace expect something different and the pandemic has transformed the traditional workplace. Working from home has meant that employees’ values and perspectives have changed. These days, we challenge conventional ideas of leadership.
For a business to be successful, it is time to look away from the command and control of traditional leadership of the past. Alternatives, such as heart centred leadership and focus on employee empowerment, encourage employees to fulfil their potential, solve problems creatively and drive innovation. In this blog, I’ll explore the benefits and share some tips on adopting a heart centred leadership approach.
What are the Heart Centred and Traditional Leadership Styles?
We know where we stand with traditional leadership but what of the alternative modern view?
Heart centred leadership is built around open leaders, nurturing and enhancing rather than dominating. It is about leading from the heart and not the head, basing your leadership on inspiration and encouragement rather than fear and control. Empathy, emotional intelligence and understanding are prominent. This article by Susan Steinbrecher outlines 21 traits of a Heart Centred Leader.
Why Should Businesses Adopt Heart Centred Leadership?
Disengagement is a word that, as a business leader, you need to remember. It accounts for a loss of £52-70 billion a year in productivity in the UK. It’s a big problem.
Feelings of disengagement can occur when employees don’t feel part of a team or when their work is not appreciated. In this environment, employees fear speaking up or making mistakes.
Unsurprisingly these feelings are more prevalent under a traditional leadership where one person is the gatekeeper, appearing to be all-knowing and responsible for all decision making. In comparison, a heart centred leader creates an environment of psychological safety. An environment that allows people to speak up, learn from mistakes, have great ideas, and positively affect employee retention and productivity.
Heart centred leadership views all employees as leaders and encourages them to see themselves as so, each having a connection to the organisation’s overall purpose. A recent OC Tanner report underlined that this leadership style creates a positive culture, and better leaders.
Top Tips on Adopting a Heart Centred Approach
How do you become a heart centred leader? How do you maximise the individual’s potential to not only benefit them but, in turn, the organisation? Here are my top tips on adopting a heart centred approach to leadership:
Share and receive feedback regularly
Don’t save feedback for the end of year review. Create a culture that values the giving and receiving of feedback at all times. As a leader, the most effective way to do this is to model it yourself by engaging with your team and finding out how they think you are performing.
Create a culture where mistakes do not equal blame
If people do make mistakes, view them as something to learn from and to embrace. That way, people are more likely to take risks with creativity and ideas, contributing to a culture of psychological safety.
Share accountability and decision-making
Rather than being the sole decision-maker, give accountability to your team. Give your team confidence and the opportunities daily to make decisions on the work they are carrying out. Accountability creates a feeling of connectedness to the overall goals of the business.
Be comfortable with not having all the answers.
Recognising that as a leader, you are only human and do not have all the answers. It is okay to share that, and it encourages your team to realise that as you have room for personal growth, so do they.
Connect people to their purpose
When people believe their work matters, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated and fulfilled. Purpose forms part of Daniel Pink’s theory on motivation in the workplace. When employees can link to purpose as well as focus on autonomy and mastery, they will truly go above and beyond.