Lead with Heart
Leading with the heart, that ‘Inner Knowing’ was the essence of an inspiring chat I had with Marc Winn (@marcwinn), social activist, leader, and co-founder of The Dandelion Foundation. It was refreshing to connect with a leader who is living and practicing what he preaches, ‘walks the talk’ to fulfill a collective mission of making the community of Guernsey, the best place to live on Earth, by 2020. The conversation will be published in the ‘Uplift Your Leadership’ podcast later this Spring, so be sure to tune in.
The world as we know it is changing rapidly – at the best of times, and I think you’d agree, we’re hard-pressed to keep up with it, mentally, energetically, emotionally, and spiritually. The Dandelion Foundation is a community that’s come together to try out ideas to bring about change on a grander scale for the benefit of the whole. They believe that every one of us has extraordinary potential, and leadership and when we come together in community, we can change the world. We can rely less on ‘the systems and thinking’ that got us here and more on the building of human capacities and capabilities, along with communities to thrive.
So where do we begin? It may sound a tad pollyanna but stay with me here, for a few bits of leadership lessons, wisdom, and learning that I hope you’ll explore. The practical application is much more straightforward than you think, whether you are people leader in a mid-to-large organization or an individual contributor.
How the Community of Guernsey leads. It begins with Personal Leadership.
For Marc, its been a decade of what he calls painting an “Individual Canvas.” As a leader of your life and in your work, ‘you and only you’ get to paint the picture, and according to Marc, and I wholeheartedly agree, it’s masterful when we listen and lead by way of the heart with what speaks as ‘truth.’ He discovered early on that the systems and tools, weren’t designed or equipped for his wellbeing, and that in his words. ‘ he was better suited towards joy.’
As frightening as it may seem, ignoring the truth isn’t an option anymore, and we’re seeing how that’s playing out on the world stage, more and more. I’ve come to appreciate, like Marc, it’s easier to follow and be led by the truth, rather than ignore it. It takes an enormous amount of courage and bravery to stand up for what it is you believe in, but you’ll be glad you did. Don’t be afraid to speak your truth and be the first to chime in! Check out the dancing guy – an old one but a good one.
If you are tired of the same old, same old, take a different route
The approach calls on wise leadership and taking real ownership of discomforts, and pain. When we do, we can rise above and heal past stories that no longer serve with patience, forgiveness, compassion, and acceptance. By taking responsibility, we’re no longer a victim but instead self-empowered to rise and take bold action.
Workplace tension and the disconnect between wellbeing, organizational health, and leadership is palpable. I hear time and again of the struggle to meet performance objectives and to be well in the process of delivering successful results, while an alarming number of leaders suffer from exhaustion, high-stress levels and burn-out. It doesn’t have to be this way. As business leaders, we know that wellbeing is profitable, yet the experience of applying it doesn’t add up.
We All Have An Inner Compass
Listen to your heart and ask what’s right for you at this moment? Cultivate a relationship with your own ‘Inner Knowing’ or ‘North Star’ to support leading your next steps. To do this, establish times or dates with yourself: this can be a daily meditation practice, a walk in nature, creating art, dance, singing, whatever activity that helps you feel connected to the Inside. A core foundation of leadership is self-leadership – it begins inside. Over time, it builds the muscle and capabilities of intuition and other somatic resources that under stress, go unnoticed and its our most potent resource that keeps us connected to the next wise move.
“Having the bravery to listen to your own heart is critical to self confidence, personal productivity and creativity which naturally breeds effective leadership.”
-Donna Martin, Former GM Executive
Wise Choice to Action – Place Wisdom at the Core of Everything You Do
As leaders, we get to choose to be wise and to influence ‘non-wise’ organizations through learning, skill-building, curiosity and powerful questions. First, take accountability for your actions – at the end of the day, the only thing you have control over is how it is you react. Get curious: I’m struggling with the politics of the organization, or I’m disengaged with the work, I’m feeling exhausted, whatever the struggle, resistance or trigger that says, “my hands are tied,” untie the rope and take some time to reflect and feel into: Why this is for you? And then ask, What Does My Heart Need in This Moment? Listen and respond to Wise Action. Learn and apply self-compassion. Continue to ask questions to get a better understanding of Why am I in this role? Why am I doing what I am doing? Is it aligned with my values? Is it in alignment with my heart?
In Marc’s words, imagine, if we all took accountability. Leadership accountability for our human development and evolution that connects us to deeper meaning, purpose and wisdom.
What a great world this would be.
We ended in meditation, a space of silence in the heart to listen. Marc’s parting words, from his Inner Knowing, was this:
May Peace Prevail On Earth, along with an image of the words that are by his bedside: ‘Inner Peace to Global Peace.’
For me, I felt deeply connected to Presence and Peace. Whole body relaxed and at ease.
Grateful for the sharing of conversation, continued learning and the inspiration to continue to practice on the path to greater wellbeing and peace.