How many of you remember your favorite teacher or winning your first game and going out with the team and coach for ice cream? I believe when we think about these moments what comes to mind is bonding, inspiration, camaraderie, and trust. Have you ever noticed that good leaders, like great teachers and coaches, tend to have deep bonds with their workers?
As a manager, you’re probably not going to lead your team to the Super Bowl, but you need to motivate your people to get things done and drive results. Do you have that kind of bond to lead and inspire? Or have you been taught to manage by objectives and metrics to monitor performance, and that bonding with your team members will be seen as frivolous? Of course, good managers don’t make business decisions on just emotion and locker room bonding; performance is important and many leaders have to think about decisions based on whether it’s good for the business.
Given the speed at which we communicate and make decisions, leaders who are able to lead with the head by focusing on the big-picture goal and business objectives, and with the heart, knowing how to engage, coach, and motivate people, and who can provide the tactical tools and skills necessary, are gifted. However, if you’re like most people, you tend to be stronger in one or two areas and weaker in the others.
Leading with your heart
When speaking with clients, many believe that emotions impede their ability to make smart business decisions. However, today’s research shows us that the repression of emotions greatly inhibits human functioning.
Inspiring leaders, like Joseph Guerriero, chief revenue, sales, and marketing officer of MediaDC, recently talked with me about a sales person who was underperforming. “If I just base my evaluation on revenue performance this individual should be moved out,” he said. “But it’s really about diagnosing the problem. This person is a type ‘A’ personality who wants to succeed. In meetings with senior management, I’ve had to defend this salesperson, my argument being, he’s doing everything right and someone else wouldn’t do better.” Guerriero said, “My job as a manager is to keep him focused and encouraged.” Later, Guerriero told me that this salesperson recently brought in three new accounts.
However, some leaders let their emotions get the better of them. Having friends and family in business doesn’t always equate to good business decisions. Tish Squillaro, CEO and founder of CANDOR Consulting, and author of “Head Trash: Cleaning out the Junk that Stands between You and Success!” remembers a situation where a CEO client was stuck. He was having difficulties making a personnel decision where his heart and head were not balanced. When the CEO started his business, he filled important roles with people he trusted and knew as friends rather than focusing on their future skill sets. As the company grew and the need for strong talent in specific leadership roles became critical to the business, the CEO realized that changes were required around personnel decisions. One in particular included a long-time friend who was not performing. In his heart, the CEO knew that he had to let his friend go, but he didn’t want to hurt his feelings. Instead, he allowed him to stay in the role longer than he should, and by the time they let him go, it not only hurt the business but ruined the friendship. Waiting made it worse on the employee who was not performing because it was viewed by the entire company and caused discord among the other teams. The CEO’s heart allowed the prolonged situation to continue, and in the long run it actually made matters worse for his friend because he lost creditability and his reputation during the prolonged process.