The 21st Century Leader engages the head, heart & hands

Did you notice message projected by Mitt Romney in the media leading up to the US Presidential Election?

Whether he was making a speech or meeting the people, his sleeves were almost always rolled up. This wasn’t necessarily because he was hot or uncomfortable, but he wanted to give the impression that “Mitt is a hands-on leader, ready for action”.

How do you engage with your people?

The 21st Century leader needs to be people-oriented, first and foremost, with the ability to know how and when to engage people with their head, heart and hands, the leader requires the right mix. Great leaders know that all three have to be ever-present, but it different strengths. This mix depends on the context, the people, the past and the future.

We each seem lean toward one attribute over the others:

Head – The knowledgeable leader uses facts and data

Heart – The empathic leader reads emotions and can make connections

Hands – The hands-on leader is action-oriented.

However to lead we each need to acquire the skills to be able to operate across domains, and gain the instinct to know which one to employ, when and with whom. Different circumstances requires us to lead in different ways.

HEAD + Heart + Hands

When you need it: Amidst the chaos, highly emotive situations require a clear head to look at the facts and make a path using an objective viewpoint.

Not so much: Not every situation is black and white. You may actually know the facts and the most straightforward approach, but sometimes the best course of action isn’t the most direct route from A to B and people need to make their own way.

Head + HEART + Hands

When you need it: High change environments can be stressful this is where a stronger heart-orientation is required and an empathic approach helps the process. It doesn’t mean we need to shrink back from the course of change, just ensure that people’s uncertainties are heard.

Not so much: We can never truly take the Heart out of any equation, however, there are times when it is important to de-emphasise the emotions. This often occurs when people have difficulty seeing the reality in a situation.

Head + Heart + HANDS

When you need it: Building teams and connections, especially when the context is new to everyone. A team will feel connected to the leader when they know that he or she has been in the trenches alongside them.

Not so much: The most extreme is micro-managing. It disempowers people when the leader takes on too much of the day-to-day work. Learn how to let go and trust.


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