Expert Resources, Featured, General, Leadership, Success

Leading from the Head and Heart

One-third of senior executives derail or plateau at some point due to their inability to build teams or regulate their emotions under stress.

Carol Yang

As we progress into more senior roles, functional or technical expertise is not enough. What’s more vital are the self-management and interpersonal skills that enable us to get the best from our teams and perform at our best, even under stress. We need to lead from both the head and heart.

A long time ago in a company far, far away I once worked with a senior level Finance Director who was absolutely brilliant at all things financial. But he was also renown for his temper. Bad news was his trigger. His typical response involved a lot of yelling (some directed at the poor messenger of said bad news) and on occasion, even kicking the furniture.

Not surprisingly, everyone, his team especially, was very reluctant to highlight problems or negative trends to him for fear of his reaction. As you can imagine, being the Finance head honcho responsible for managing stakeholder expectations, this was a big problem. He didn’t always have the full information he needed to manage his CEO’s expectations. He did not last long.

Now you may be thinking that I made this all up. But I promise you it’s true.

This may be an extreme example, but it’s not as rare as you think. Research conducted by The Center for Creative Leadership shows that about one-third of senior executives derail or plateau at some point, most often due to their inability to build teams or regulate emotions during stress.

When researching competency models, Daniel Goleman, the leading expert on Emotional Intelligence also found that 90% of what differentiated star performers in senior leadership positions vs average ones was their emotional intelligence, not their cognitive abilities.

Now that shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Because let’s not forget that fundamentally, we’re all humans. Which means that we’re driven by our emotions and our needs, not by the work itself.

Each of us is an individual with our own bundle of emotions, all of which we bring to work everyday. And we rely on our people, with their own unique bundle of emotions, to get the work done. Our motivations, thoughts and behaviours affect our performance, particularly when we’re stressed and this impacts our team’s morale and performance.

To succeed, every leader needs to be able to lead from both the head and heart. This requires a more holistic approach to our leadership development.

Similar to the human brain, each side of this Whole Leader framework has a vital role and complements each other to create a synergistic effect.

Without strong strategic and problem solving skills, we cannot influence diverse groups and mobilise collaboration to achieve our mission objectives.

Equally important is our self belief and mental toughness, and the ability to manage our own emotions while navigating challenging interpersonal situations that will help us weather through difficult challenges.

This holistic approach places equal emphasis on strengthening how you lead and manage yourself, in addition to improving your leadership influencing skills to lead and manage others with greater agility and flexibility.

Working together, these skills will help you be a more resilient leader with the ability to inspire and energise your teams, which is ultimately the power that creates results. The Whole Leader Framework puts you one step closer to doing just that.




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