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Leadership from the heart: heart-led financial services companies build cultures of committed employees, earn loyal customers and clients while increasing long-term profits.

THE JOURNEY TO HEART-LED LEADERSHIP covers only 18 inches--from your head to your heart--but it lasts a lifetime.

That's where I want to take you with this article--on an 18-inch journey from your head to your heart that will change your life, your financial services company and the lives of everyone around you.

In 2010, I wrote a bestselling book called "It's Not Just Who You Know," about the power and importance of building lasting, genuine relationships both personally and professionally. I've been amazed and humbled by the reaction to that book, and I've learned a great deal from the hundreds of stories readers have shared with me. The last chapter of that book ends with these words: "It's not just who you know--it's who you are."

I've come to realize there are countless dimensions to those words. The impact of "who you are" goes far beyond relationships or the ways in which you connect with people. Who you are goes to the very core of how you live and lead.

If you want to grow as a leader--if you want to make an impact at home, in your community and in your work--then nothing is more important than the journey from your head to your heart. This 18-inch journey will define and refine who you are. And if who you are is servant leader, or what I call a heart-led leader, then you, your teams, and your organization can move beyond ordinary success to success that really matters.

There are ways to make money, build businesses, and achieve goals that don't involve leading from the heart. But if that's who you are, then you're missing the real meaning of life and limiting your impact on the world.

Heart-led leadership is more sustainable, more rewarding. It leads to everything any business leader would want--higher sales, better employee engagement and less turnover, stronger teams, greater efficiencies, more innovation, consistent growth ... You name the positive business outcome, and I promise you that heart-led leadership is at it's core.

Leading from the heart transcends numbers and spreadsheets. It also inspires, encourages, develops, and influences the world for the better. And that leads to even greater results, because it creates passionate teams--teams that believe in the mission, that provide discretionary effort (effort beyond what's required of them), and that model heart-led leadership and pass it on to others. Heart-led banks--as well as other organizations--build cultures of committed employees, earn loyal customers and clients while increasing long-term profits.

So what is heart-led leadership and what is this 18 inch journey?

The heart, of course, is nothing more than a wonderful metaphor. For centuries, the muscle that pumps blood throughout our bodies has also been known as the keeper of our emotions. When our hearts are in a good place, we care deeply about serving others, about selflessness, about doing the right thing even when it's difficult, about developing empathy and demonstrating generosity, about all those ideals that seem "soft" but that allow us to live and lead differently. The impact we hope to have on our families and friends, our teams and our communities matter more than any title, corner office, service award or company pin.

That's heart-led leadership.

Help others rise

In today's business world, we look up to leaders who are intelligent and articulate and resourceful--who are head smart--and yet we tend to underestimate those who are heart smart. We live in a society that emphasizes what we accomplish, and undervalues the kind of person we are.

You can see it everywhere. In our individual lives, we stress the importance of our resumes, awards, titles and accomplishments. In our schools, almost all of the focus is on grades, test scores and trophies. In business, shareholder value is measured largely on bottom-line results and quarterly profits. In politics, nearly every decision is made based on how it will influence the next election. Nonprofit directors often are evaluated by the amount of funds they raise. Even in religion, leaders frequently are judged and celebrated by the number of followers they attract.

One of the few places where we actually emphasize the "who" over the "what" is in our homes with our families. Only among loved ones, it seems, do we feel safe enough to truly live and lead with our emotions, with empathy, compassion and love.

What if we flipped the script? What if we led with our heart (and our head) at work?

Leaders who are heart-led help others rise with them rather than trampling others on the way to the top. They see the highest potential in others and help them pursue that potential. They serve others. They see and value the uniqueness in others. They make smart decisions in caring, compassionate and empathetic ways.

This journey isn't about developing specific traits in your life--things like authenticity, empathy, transparency, vulnerability, curiosity, generosity, humility, gratitude or love. Instead, it's about the experiences that create those traits.

Who we are, in the most basic sense, is a collection of our life experiences. That's what shapes us. That's what drives the decisions we make, from the goals we set for our company and our teams to the strategies we disseminate, to the way we treat people we encounter along the way. Our experiences, if we are intentional, create the traits that define who we are.

Fill your life with experiences

I'm a huge (or I should say obsessed) sports fan. I've been to just about every major sporting event you can name--the Super Bowl, the World Series, the NCAA Final Four, College Football Championship Game, the Stanley Cup Finals, the Masters golf tournament--and guess what? None of those amazing sporting events ever changed my heart. They were all fun and they often made my heart pump faster, but they weren't life-changing.

I want to fill my life with experiences that change me--experiences that make me a better leader, a better husband, a better father, a better friend, a better person.

When I experienced Japan, I learned about the impact of war on ordinary people.

When I experienced Ethiopia, I learned about poverty.

When I experienced Auschwitz, I learned about the existence of evil.

When I experienced adoption, I learned about love.

When I experienced prison, I learned about forgiveness.

My life has been an amazing journey, literally and figuratively. When I was growing up in Suffern, New York, there were times when it seemed impossible to think I'd ever leave that small village. My parents taught me to work hard and serve others, but I struggled so much academically that my high school guidance counselor recommended I go to trade school. Instead, opportunities continued to knock at my door.

I learned to deal with what I later discovered was dyslexia. I continued to work hard. I continued to serve others. I developed strong, genuine relationships. And I built a career and life that has taken me to all fifty states and more than sixty countries. I've worked in big business, education, politics, nonprofits, and, in my current role, as a speaker, executive coach and an entrepreneur.

In all my travels, in all my experiences, and in all that I've learned from the hundreds of leaders I've met, coached, managed, or befriended, I've discovered one theme that consistently defines success: heart-led leadership.

The leaders and organizations that led with their hearts are more successful and have better results than those that don't. I've learned that love and results are on the same side of a two-sided coin. It is not love or results. It is love-driven results.

Love in this context is simply an unselfish and loyal concern for the good of others.

If you love what you do, if you love the people you do it with, if you love your culture, if you love your mission, if you love your teams, if you love your investors, if you love your clients, if you love your clients and customers, then you will gain better results. Period.

When this type of love--this heart-led leadership--is modeled at all levels of an organization, then the positive results multiply into a remarkable and sustainable force.

If that's who you are, then imagine the impact you can have on your family, your organization, your community and your world.

And it all begins with leading from the heart and taking the 18-inch journey.

TOMMY SPAULDING is a New York Times bestselling author and world renowned inspirational leader on leadership. His new book, The Heart-Led Leader, will be released nationally this month. Website:
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Comment:Leadership from the heart: heart-led financial services companies build cultures of committed employees, earn loyal customers and clients while increasing long-term profits.
Author:Spaulding, Tommy
Publication:ABA Bank Marketing
Article Type:Cover story
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2015
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