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Being “heart-centered” has been in my mind this week… intentionally leading with love in all that I say and do whether it is at home, at work or at play.
I began the practice of reading a daily inspirational devotion book this past summer and am now in the middle of Marianne Williamson’s A Year of Miracles: Daily Devotions and Reflections. I find that 90% of the time, the reading of the day has something to do with what I was already thinking about and yesterday was no different. The message yesterday was to change my work from “a job to a ministry”. Williamson explains that “a job is merely an exchange of energy while ministry is the platform for my higher service”. The prayer that Ms. Williamson ended the daily reflection with started with this sentence: “I surrender my talents and abilities for the purposes of love”. This was so on target for what had rumbled around in my brain all week…
I started out my week last Sunday morning by attending a service of a small gathering where my friend Molly Friedenfeld was asked to speak. Molly calls herself a Light Coach… her life is spent shining light and love wherever she goes and with whoever she may come in contact with. I watched Molly lead by her heart as she spoke of how we can all shine our lights out into the world and I saw little sparks of light ignite in a few of the people listening to her… seriously… their faces literally started to glow!
As I drove into work the following morning, I spent time creating the intention to be a leader who leads with my heart and that my actions and verbal messages all come out of the space of love and caring. Unfortunately, being a leader in a corporate environment can create situations where it may be difficult to get a message across with love and good intent when the message may be a hard one to deliver.
The old term “tough love” comes to mind… sometimes we have to have tough conversations and take action that may be viewed as unkind or uncaring when it is the furthest thing from the truth. I think most leaders in organizations would admit that the toughest part of our jobs is to have to deliver messages that we know will cause angst to the person(s) receiving the message.
I have had to have many performance management conversations over the years and tell people that they had a choice… a choice to improve their performance or they would be choosing to end their employment. I have also had to stand in front of a group of people as they are being told that we were down-sizing (or right-sizing… whatever the terminology happened to be at the time) and had to lay off valuable employees.
Those are hard conversations and as leaders, sometimes we get frustrated or uncomfortable and then the communication comes out a bit sideways, where our tone is harsher than we intended or flat with little emotion. We stop speaking through our hearts and change the tone because we are feeling scared, sad or mad too (yes, leaders also have all those emotions when things are not going in the direction we want them to).
Then there is another type of conversation that can create a bit of a quandary for leaders who wants to lead with their hearts… the conversations which have to do with an employee’s spiritual beliefs. In today’s work environments, a leader needs to be careful engaging in conversations surrounding highly emotional subjects such as politics, racial and/or cultural differences or religion. Even the most innocent remarks could be construed as not embracing diversity or trying to influence someone to the leader’s viewpoint.
On Friday, I was talking to a potential candidate for a job and we were having a wonderful, relaxing conversation when she started talking to me about the fact that she was quite spiritual and knew her deceased father’s spirit was around her all the time. As many of my readers are aware, I too am a highly spiritual person and I spend a lot of time learning and engaging with people who have similar beliefs. However, that is a part of my life that I only share with a few select people at my workplace because I honor all and would not want to make anyone feel uncomfortable if they have different beliefs than I do. So for a few minutes, I struggled with how to respond to this person sitting in front of me… until I went back to leading with my heart…
When I acknowledged this person’s beliefs, we had a great conversation and I learned more about her than I would have ever learned if I had gently moved the topic onto something a bit safer. She also learned about me and we connected at a level that created trust right at the get-go… a pretty good way to start a potential employment relationship wouldn’t you say?
Leading with our hearts through a place of loving energy is not easy… it may feel weird… it may feel a little wooey… it may feel a bit uncomfortable… but I guarantee that if we act from a place of love and understanding, we will have highly engaged and trusting relationships whether we are at home, at work or at play…
Do you believe it is okay to talk about your personal beliefs as a leader or is it better to keep those types of conversations off-limits at the workplace?
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