The Heart-Centred Leadership Revolution

April 10, 2021

Expanding Beyond Head-Centred Leadership


How many of you reading this have ever felt intimidated by a supervisor or boss? How many of you have ever been the boss who felt they had to intimidate others because they felt pressured to deliver results? How many of you have ever felt silenced or disempowered in your work environment? Maybe you learned that not speaking up and getting on with things was valued over communicating about a particular problem? Maybe you know the feeling of being in a work environment that was so toxic that you didn’t feel safe to share what you were feeling or thinking? What about sacrificing creativity for the bottom-line? Or learning to tread a line between being true to your integrity and being loyal to the company?


These things happen every day in the work environment, especially when we are run by the negative characteristics of a head-centred leadership style which has been the dominant business model we can see in a lot of the major corporations throughout the world today.


In a head-centred company, some of the common negative characteristics are:


  • The bottom line (i.e. more profits and more clients) is the number one goal and employees are incentivised to produce results at all costs, including to their integrity and mental and physical health.
  • The workday is seen as a race that pits individuals within the company against each other, creating an environment of competition, anxiety, gossip, secrecy, fear and exclusion.
  • The leadership is top-down, with a few executives making decisions and those lower down in the hierarchy, though larger in number, having little input into how things are run, creating an environment where power is claimed by a few to the disempowerment of many.


Does this sound familiar to any of you?


What if there was a different way of leading? One that allows us to feel empowered, that honours our feelings and inspires creativity. One that promotes transparency, trust, authenticity, responsibility and communication.


These characteristics that I just described are what heart-centred leadership is all about.

The Pros and Cons of the Head-Centre


The head centre, in and of itself, isn’t inherently negative. In fact, it has a lot of really important qualities such as the ability to think critically and to cultivate and apply knowledge and also curiosity, the drive to know and understand more as well as wonderment, the ability to marvel at something. We’ve experienced incredible advances in medicine and technology as a result of head-centred thinking. We’ve collected data and generated incredible insights as to the dynamics of our planet, its resources and inhabitants. The head centre actually offers us many gifts.


So, when does head-centred leadership becomes problematic? We have three major centres: the head, the heart and the belly centres (aka body centre).


Any one of these centres can become problematic when it’s employed to the exclusion of our other two major centres. When this happens, things can get out of balance where you start to see the negative consequences of that imbalance. In the case of head-centred leadership, we can see the effects of this imbalance in the form of corporate culture that has ruled the business world for over 70 years. If we wanted to, we could go back further to the violent exploitation of natural resources and indigenous populations by colonisers and to feudal landlords, etc., but for the purposes of keeping this current, we’ll stick to modern corporate culture as a representative of head-centred leadership.


Have you ever stopped to think about the connection between the toxic work environments of head-centred leadership and the negative effects it has not just on the people who work for these corporations, but on the entire planet? For us who work in these environments, we experience elevated stress levels, disconnection from our emotions which can have consequences on our family lives and relationships among other negative effects. But these negative effects go beyond the work environment and reverberate to form sweatshops and slave labor that have destroyed communities in developing countries while the corporations that employ them make billions in profits. Not to mention the catastrophic effects that large industries have had on Mother Nature, effects that have largely been ignored while corporations continue to act with impunity. The disconnection from the employees and the environment is so great that corporations continue to operate with policies that ignore the human and environmental cost of their profits. A painful but inconvenient truth to many of those companies that have established themselves with little or no regard to the consequences.


We can see in history when solely led by the head-centre, without integrating the heart-centre and belly-centre, the trajectory moves quickly towards the heads negative characteristics; creating a deeper disconnect in ourselves, as well as, with others and with the natural world we live in. So, how do we then shift from that, to something better? — now that we see that head-centred leadership model hasn’t worked in service of true prosperity, sharing, brotherhood, sisterhood, peace and the flourishing of the planet and our own personal-development.

The Shift to Heart-Centred Leadership


In essence, when I speak about “Heart-Centred Leadership” it incorporates the three centres (head, heart & belly). Why is that important? Because when we start to include our “whole-self” we are then willing to not only ‘think’ but also ‘feel’ and ‘sense’ giving us a more embodied state of leading and widening our awareness. This widening of our awareness not only impacts our lives, but also the lives of others and the environment in which we lead. We are more likely to give space for others to be real, honest and authentic without feeling threatened. Empowering others doesn’t mean you are disempowered, on the contrary, you give permission for something far greater than a limited ‘thought’ to emerge. You give permission to allow others to come into their full potential to best serve the main objective. In fact, when you start to embody all three centres within yourself, a deeper trust comes in how you are leading others which is registered in the field — I’ve seen this and I live this with the team I lead. There is a profound trust amongst us and because of this we can be authentic with each other; communication flows, clarity and direction thrive, honesty is appreciated, working together has meaning. Heart-Centred Leadership has ultimately created a deeper relaxation in all of us and how we interact with each other. In the work environment, this has increased enthusiasm, optimism and motivation to be productive, creative, collaborative and to give each person permission to shine. A win win for everyone.


What might this Heart-Centred Leadership look like?

When we transition from head-centred to heart-centred leadership, we start to see a shift in values like this:


Vertical structure










False projection





Horizontal structure













Quality of life

We can learn to bring these qualities to our relationships, work environments and communities. Imagine shifting from the head-centred leadership style to one where you’re empowered to share your ideas, where you’re encouraged to be creative, where you feel safe to share your thoughts and discuss problems and challenges. Can you picture yourself in an environment where vulnerability is praised and where feelings are honoured? What about running a company with these values and empowering and supporting others and leading from a place of compassion and authenticity?


Increasingly, these heart-centred qualities are gaining momentum. As we become disheartened by the negative consequences of head-centred leadership, our values have shifted. Today, it’s more and more common to see people actively seeking ways to embody heart-centred leadership in relationships, in businesses and in communities. We are ready for this change and hopefully the shift to heart-centred leadership will be the legacy of our time.


Stay tuned for more on Heart-Centred Leadership that I will be posting on my Blog soon!

If heart-centred leadership is something that you would like to learn more about, check out the Tools for Life Leader Training.

Download free PDF on Leading & Coaching Essentials


This insightful PDF is for those that want to explore some essentials in leading & coaching. In the PDF you will receive tools and teachings for leading and coaching individuals, teams, groups or organisations. Download free PDF on Leading & Coaching Essentials here.

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