Stress testing the heart of leadership

One of my best friends and longest-standing clients had a heart attack a month ago.

Fortunately, he survived, thanks to a great team of doctors and a one-inch arterial stint standing by only a half mile away at a hospital. In fact, when I talked with him last week, he had just gone for a long walk.

There are hundreds of people whose lives have been enriched by this man who took a collective gasp at the initial report, and all exhaled in relief when they heard the good news of his recovery. I heard some of the talk among his circle of family and friends, and without exception, none of it centered on his strategy, thinking or business acumen (which he has in abundance). The talk reflected words like: courage, integrity, care, humor and, well … heart.  People follow him and believe in him because he has heart. Yes, his intellect and business savvy give shape and direction to their commitment, but his willingness to show and share his heart is what lights up his global organization. It has also become the heartbeat of the company’s culture.

Knowledge (or as I like to say “being the smartest person in the room”) is quickly becoming a commodity. Just have someone Google faster than you and see how the field can level. Heart is the distinguishing element of great leaders.

So, how do you know if you have the heart of a leader, and how can you know if others sense and see that? Well, the capacity of your physical heart is best measured when it is stress-tested. Most often, the same is true with leadership. Those defining moments that reveal the heart of a leader come during periods of risk and uncertainty, the bold moves.

So, the question we ask ourselves is whether we are inviting or embracing enough risk in our lives — personal or business — knowing that it is the better test of our heart and character.

When was the last time you had your “heart” checked?


About paulheagen

I am an executive coach, advisor and confidant who helps leaders better understand, refresh or redirect their purpose in their business and personal lives. Over my 35-year career as a corporate executive, communications consultant and trusted advisor, I have guided executives through “defining moments” – those unique times when the decisions they make, the words they speak, and the qualities they exhibit can influence not only the destiny of their organization but also their own lives and careers. When it comes to my clients and my life work, I am ferociously passionate and restlessly inquisitive about uncovering the unique dreams, vision and purpose that lead to exceptional leadership.
This entry was posted in The Heart of Leadership, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Stress testing the heart of leadership

  1. Betsy Townsend says:

    Paul, your messages are always inspiring, but this one is exceptional. I look forward to your next gem!

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