Why Your Head & Heart are Both Essential to Great Leadership

June 30, 2014 — Leave A Comment

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I just got back from spending a week in St. Paul doing some coach training with a terrific group of PhD candidates at Bethel Seminary. My co-leader Eric Bryant and I had an amazing time helping each of these world changers dig deep into their own unique God-given design ~ giftings, passions, skills, values, strengths, and more ~ with a view to uncovering how each could best leverage himself to advance the Kingdom. Amazing, right?! I love this work.

Through our many discussions over the course of the week, I was reminded again how indispensable it is for leaders to develop proficiency in both the HEAD and HEART skills of leadership. Being competent in just one of these is not enough.

What’s the difference between Head and Heart skills? In broad strokes, I mean…

Task Skills vs. Relationship Skills
Strategic Savvy vs. Emotional Intelligence
Organizational Management vs. Cultural Leadership

Most leaders have a preferred style that favors either Task-focused or Relationship-focused leadership, and many make the mistake of staying in their comfort zone and trusting that will be enough. Too many, unfortunately, discover too late that leading from just one side of the equation is like trying to fly with just one wing. You do a lot of flapping around, but never really get off the ground, and ultimately you just end up going in circles.

It takes two wings to fly.

Where do you rate yourself when it comes to Head skills vs Heart skills in your leadership? How would you begin to find out?

One of my favorite assessments I do with leaders is the Leadership Circle, and I love it precisely for this reason. This 360 instrument provides direct, actionable feedback to leaders on 18 different core leadership competencies ~ divided into two broad categories: Relationship vs. Task.

Leaders who go through the assessment see their results displayed in a brilliantly designed circle graphic that instantly shows them where they are strong and where they are weak in skills related to Relationship and Task.

Why not try a quick self-assessment? Here are the top 5 Relational Leadership skills measured in the assessment. Where would you rate yourself in each of these on a 1 to 10 (10 being “I’m a Jedi Master at this skill”)?

  • Caring Connection ~ your interest in and ability to form warm, caring relationships.
  • Fosters Team Play ~ your ability to foster high-performance teamwork among team members that report to you, across the organization, and within teams in which you participate.
  • Collaborator ~ the extent to which you engage others in a manner that allows the parties involved to discover common ground, and work together effectively.
  • Mentoring & Developing ~ your ability to develop others through mentoring, and maintaining growth-enhancing relationships.
  • Interpersonal Intelligence ~ the interpersonal effectiveness with which you listen, engage in conflict and controversy, deal with the feelings of others, and manage your own feelings.

And here are the top 5 Task Leadership skills measured on the assessment. Where would you rate yourself in each of these on a 1 to 10 (10 being “I’m a total Ninja when it comes to this skill”)?

  • Strategic Focus ~ the extent to which you think and plan rigorously and strategically to ensure that the organization will thrive in the near and long-term.
  • Purposeful & Visionary ~ the extent to which you clearly communicate and model commitment to personal purpose and organizational vision.
  • Achieves Results ~ the degree to which you are goal directed and have a track record of goal achievement and high performance.
  • Decisiveness ~ your ability to make decisions on time, and the extent to which you are comfortable moving forward in uncertainty.
  • Sustainable Productivity ~ your ability to achieve results in a way that maintains or enhances the overall long-term effectiveness of the organization. It’s about how well you balance human and technical resources to sustain long-term high performance.

How’d you do? Better yet, how would your people rate you in these skills? You might be surprised how widely your self-perception can vary from how your people experience your leadership.

You can learn more about the assessment on my website here. Drop me a line if you want to bring this work to you and your team. I’d love to help.

Meantime, here’s a challenge: Pick one skill listed above you’d like to strengthen in your leadership, and choose one thing you will do this month to develop that skill.

Will you do it? Feel free to share your goal in the comments below.

Michael Warden

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One response to Why Your Head & Heart are Both Essential to Great Leadership

  1. Thanks for the post Michael. It made me think of the part in James Hunter’s book, “The Servant” where it talks about the balance that is needed between being task focused and people focused. I used the metaphor of the human body to describe the characteristics of a principled leader. The heart AND the head/mind are essential.

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