Leaders of the Heart Forge Lasting Partnerships of Integrity ©
By Sandra H. Moody
As the New Year ushers in new innovative leadership best practices, I am reminded of our past influential leadership authorities who had a significant impact on shaping our philosophy today. Thirty years ago, Tom Peter’s co-author In Search of Excellence (1982) recognized during his business consulting engagements that leadership is about nurturing and enhancing people’s ability; whereas management is about arranging and telling. This perspective continues to resonate across organizations today and has served as a foundation for contemporary leadership models to emerge that focus on developing leaders that build and forge lasting partnerships of integrity. The highly acclaimed framework of Emotional Intelligence was introduced by Daniel Goleman in the late 1990s. Through his research, Goleman (2000) provides a four-quadrant model that describes a set of human abilities that people can learn and develop. One of the four dimensions is social awareness which addresses the importance of understanding and valuing other perspectives. Empathy is at the heart of this competency. The ability to detect varying emotional states while expressing authentic concern for another’s predicament and viewpoint demonstrate strong leadership acumen. A second important dimension is relationship management, a competency that emphasizes development of others strengths and abilities that promotes successful performance outcomes; while at the same time encouraging individual potential for mastering competencies for the future. According to Goleman, “The most effective leaders are those who can discern the feelings of their followers” (p.24). Leaders that exhibit these hallmark proficiencies of social awareness and relationship management are positioned to motivate and guide associates through a collaborative approach where shared goals are discussed; and individual strengths and abilities are acknowledged and cultivated. In recent years, a new consciousness has surfaced called positive psychology, which identifies human potential that enable individuals to maximize their talents through strength engagement (VIA Intensive, 2010). The two leaders of thought in this approach are Gallup Strengths and VIA Character Strengths, both methods examine what is right with people and how leaders can design environments that provide opportunities for individuals to employ their talents and strengths. These two approaches provide the ‘heartbeat’ in leadership. The remediation approach stifles growth and relationship building, whereas the strength-based approach capitalizes on personal attributes, nurtures positive emotion, and forms lasting prosperous connections; essential components that cultivate an environment for relationships to develop and thrive. Worldwide businesses have recognized the value of leading from the heart and are leveraging the strengths of their workforce. In the premier issue of Build, Michele Fabrizi, President and CEO of MARC USA, heightens employee engagement and employee performance through a relationship building approach. Ms. Fabrizi promotes leadership as a coaching and confidence building strategy where senior management “spend 60 to 80 percent of their time working with staff” in an effort to nurture talent and empower staff to produce game-changing solutions (p. 01.20). As these collaborative exchanges take place, bonds are strengthened within the workplace and associates feel valued and appreciated for their contribution; which is linked to higher employee engagement. Leaders of the Heart enhance positive relationships where people are encouraged to engage their strengths which facilitates in the development of our leaders for tomorrow. Tom Rath (2008) states “the ultimate test of a leader is not what you are able to do in the here and now – but instead what continues to grow long after you’re gone” (p. 95). This year, resolve to forge strong enduring relationships that acknowledge another’s attributes and fosters lasting partnerships of integrity that will be passed on for generations to come.