Successful leaders of today are expected to provide their employees with a sense of meaning in their work as well as provide an engaging workplace. Yet, according to a recent Gallup poll, 70 percent of U.S. employees are “not engaged” at work. How is this possible?
People need to feel their work matters. In order for this message to be communicated with authenticity, the leader must come from a place of emotional resonance. You have to truly believe in your employees and genuinely appreciate the contributions they make every day.
With a mindful attitude and a set of clearly defined principals, you have the power to shape your destiny as a leader at any juncture. Are you the type of leader people want to follow? Do you understand what sets extraordinary leaders apart from all the others? Inspired leadership necessitates casting away personal and psychological barriers and recognizing, cultivating, and maintaining that connection. If you unveil and remove the barriers you have placed over your heart, your paradigm for the way you see, approach and work with others will shift.
Yes, I said heart.
We all have unique goals and ideals, and to access them, you need to slow down and take a look within — and listen to your heart. You’ll find that by doing so, you become more connected with who you are and with those around you. Put your heart into your interactions with coworkers and employees, rather than looking for outward recognition as a leader. The focus is to serve the people that you are leading, not the other way around. Once you begin to incorporate Heart-Centered leadership practices, the most powerful shifts can occur in your relationships, and business outcomes.
Here are five signs of a heart-centered leader. One who leads by inspiration and encouragement, not by fear and control.
1. You maintain people’s self-esteem
Leadership requires first connecting to, then inspiring, people. When you regularly express gratitude and treat employees with respect — you lead your people by example and set them up for alignment with others. This also engenders trust. The bonds of trust can only be forged when you consistently show your team that they are valued, listened to and involved.
2. You replace blame with responsibility
This means taking the perspective of those who are doing the day-to-day work. Letting go of blaming others can begin with asking yourself some questions, such as: “What part do I play in this situation? How do my actions contribute to these problems?” Taking this further ask, “Did I exercise poor judgment? Did I do or say anything that may have adversely affected someone?”
3. You don’t assume, or judge — you come to understand
It’s amazing what can be accomplished when you have the willingness to assume that people have positive intentions. Strive to be more open-minded. Ask better questions. Being consistent in making every attempt to understand the behavior of your colleagues, customers, friends, and family — rather than automatically assuming you know what happened or what they are thinking — will yield substantial, long-term rewards.
4. You know your impact
An inspired, heart-centered leader is always cognizant of how words and actions may be interpreted. When you have the integrity and foresight to understand that everything you do and say has an impact — you’ll begin to consciously direct your energy and intentions. If you can master this, the perilous outcomes brought about by short-range thinking and impulsiveness comes to a halt.
5. You practice self-care
The biggest challenge you may have as a leader is the pressure to perform at an accelerated pace, and at higher levels, for the business to be profitable. This means experiencing a great deal of stress to achieve goals and objectives. Longer working hours, 24/7 access and fewer resources can create a mountain of pressure and stress — and because the pressure is on you to perform, you may put yourself last. However, remember there is a reason that when flying you are asked to “place your oxygen mask on yourself before helping others.” If you are not strong, mentally and physically, then it is unlikely you will be able to take care of your business and your employees. When you are healthy, focused and calm, your positive behavior can’t help but enhance employee productivity and engagement.
This article was originally written, Susan Steinbrecher, the CEO of Steinbrecher and Associates, a leadership training and executive coaching firm. She is the co-author of Heart-Centered Leadership: Lead Well, Live Well and author of KENSHO: A Modern Awakening. @SteinbrecherInc