As I discussed in the last post, I have observed over the past decade a real shift in leadership values. Many businesses and institutions around the world are making a transition from a headcentred leadership model to one of heart-centred leadership.
In head-centred leadership, vertical hierarchies are dominant, meaning there is a top-down order of power and decision making. This type of leadership engenders competition and a drive to succeed at all costs, ultimately creating a very stressful work and living environment as people who spend 40+ hours a week in these disempowered and stressful work situations then carry that negative energy into their home lives and relationships. Head-centred leadership has also created a huge wage gap between the CEOs and the ultra-wealthy and the workers who support their wealth, but who actually have very little financial benefit for all the work they put in.
This head-centred dynamic isn’t only reflected in the business world, but also in dictatorial political systems and in the tragic degradation of the world’s ecosystems.
The stress and dissatisfaction produced by this leadership model has led people to question: isn’t there a better way to lead?
The answer is yes, and this new way of leading is what I call heart-centred leadership.
What is Heart-Centred Leadership?
Heart-centred leadership is a leadership model where the whole self, including the head, heart and belly centres, is allowed its full, authentic expression. This type of holistic leadership creates a dynamic in companies and institutions where the unique contributions of each team member are honored, where wages and wealth are distributed more fairly and where the core values of the organization support open communication, trust and accountability.
How do you lead from the heart?
Start with you! Leading from the heart may sound deceptively easy. In fact, it requires a fair amount of work and preparation. Shifting from the toxic head-centred leadership models we’re more accustomed to and adopting heart-centred ones doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process and one that involves deep inner work that develops our capacity to self-lead. The simple fact is that you can’t offer something to someone if you don’t have it yourself. For example: if someone asks you to borrow $20, if you don’t have $20, you can’t lend it to them. In heartcentred leadership, if you want to offer compassion to a someone else, you need to have selfcompassion first. Likewise, you need to be able to feel a sense of empowerment and belonging in order to empower others and create an environment of inclusion.
That’s why I feel so passionate about heart-centred leadership—it’s a process that unfolds not only the greater potential of all the team members, but also our own deepest potential as a leader- our potential to be truly vulnerable, authentic, trustworthy and solid in ourselves.
The Qualities We Need to Cultivate as Heart-Centred Leaders
As I mentioned, heart-centred leadership is about integrating the three main centres: head, heart and belly. This holistic style of leadership doesn’t work if any of these areas is neglected.
Head Centre Gifts
Though the dominance of head-centred leadership has created toxic work environments, the head centre also offers many positive qualities that are essential for successful leadership:
Without these qualities, we wouldn’t have the ability to research and comprehend how we can contribute to solving world problems, nor would we be able to understand the inner workings of our businesses and societies and their unique processes. The positive characteristics of the head centre are just as important as any other centre. What we need to stop doing is focusing only on the head centre and ignoring the importance of the heart and belly centres.
Belly Centre Gifts
Connecting to the belly centre is absolutely necessary for effective heart-centred leadership and may be the trickiest of all to cultivate because our head-centred culture teaches us to ignore the messages of the body. The body is often seen as just a vehicle that carries the head from place to place. But when we connect with the body, we’re connecting to our sense of belonging and presence. We’re acknowledging our intuition and listening to our inner voice. We’re paying attention to our breath and noticing if we’re feeling relaxed or anxious in certain situations. We can sense when something is off, and we can feel if our needs aren’t being met. When we tune into the body’s messages, we’re able to honor our inner wisdom and connect to our source of personal power. The belly centre offers us the qualities of:
When we develop the gifts of the belly centre within ourselves, we can be more present and grounded when working with others. We can honor our limits and establish healthy boundaries and, in doing this, teach others how to set these limits and boundaries for themselves.
Heart Centre Gifts
Though all the centres are important, the heart-centred qualities are like the crowning jewels of leadership. Though the head and belly centres help us connect to our knowledge and presence, it’s the heart centre’s qualities that we use the most when we’re connecting with others and building relationships. The heart-centre is where we share and where we create community. Here’s a list of some of the heart-centre’s gifts we need to cultivate so we can offer them as leaders:
When we cultivate these qualities for ourselves, offering ourselves the acceptance, forgiveness and compassion that we would like to receive from others, we experience deep healing. As whole and healed individuals, we can then do the work of helping others to be whole and healed.
After reading the lists above, which one of the qualities on these lists do you feel you already embody very well? And which ones are more challenging for you? Can you identify where your inner work lies?
The Benefits of Heart-Centred Leadership
As we examine the areas within ourselves where we need to do more work, we invite the opportunity to grow, to heal and to share. As we become more grounded in ourselves and land in trust, we create a foundation for others to trust as well. Within an organization, offering this type of leadership can unlock communication and creativity, it can build community, spark excitement and create a culture of inclusion.
Just as the toxic head-centred energy reverberates to affect relationships, families and the planet itself, heart-centred energy has the ability to create healthy relationships and community bonds, to change political and judicial trends and to direct its focus to healing the world’s problems.
Building the foundation of heart-centred leadership starts within. Are you ready to deep-dive into the heart?
Rupda offers a profound and fun approach to self-development workshops, retreats and leadership trainings. In each of her workshops, retreats and trainings she creates a safe environment. From start to finish you are taken care of and supported. All workshops, retreats and trainings are both educational and experiential, so that you have an embodied-experience of learning.