There is a great cost when you neglect the human connection point in business.
Over the past 20 years there has been a significant amount of data showing that investment in the human element in business is a profit-making proposition. It is no secret that programs directed at employee engagement, leadership development, wellness, and employee assistance all show a significant return-on-investment for employers. One example of this research is a 2012 Towers-Watson study of 50 global companies, comparing those with low regard for sustainable engagement strategies versus those with high regard for such. These strategies include a people-first leadership approach, along with emphasis on work-life balance, job clarity, supervisor support, and ethical business practices. The study found that those companies with low engagement had an average operating margin under 10 percent, whereas for those with high engagement, the average one-year operating margin was close to three times higher, at just over 27 percent. There is strong evidence that these results may be due to the positive impact that a more heart-centered leadership approach has on employee performance.
In essence, heart-centered leadership is not a singular gold standard or an ultimate pinnacle that only a rare few can achieve. It lies in your ability to stop, go inward, and reflect on the course of action that you know is the right one rather than succumbing to external pressures and circumstances. Leading from the heart is not just a nice idea or theory or some magical dream. By embracing a heart-centered approach to leadership, you will be in a more powerful position than you could possibly have imagined. After all, what can be more powerful than motivating an associate to go the distance for you and your organization because he or she is inspired by you and respects you so highly? More importantly, you will genuinely and deeply touch the lives of others by your actions.
So, what does it take to be a heart-centered leader? If the following 21 traits sound familiar, you may be well on your way to a form of leadership driven by the principles of authenticity and integrity rather than the pursuit of profit at any and all cost.
You Might be a Heart-Centered Leader if...
- You tell the truth.
The original version of this article first appeared on Inc.com