The Bookworm Sez: Leading from the heart

  • “The Heart Led Leader” by Tommy Spaulding, c.2015, Crown Business, $26 / $34 Canada, 256 pages

If anybody asks, you’ll tell ‘em straight: you love your job.

It’s perfect for you, and it takes advantages of your strengths. That’s plenty to love, although there are times when you wonder if it could be even better. According to author Tommy Spaulding, you might be surprised — and in his new book “The Heart Led Leader,” he explains.

Changing your life and your organization, says Spaulding, is an 18-inch journey. That’s approximately how far it is from your brain to your heart.

But by heart, he doesn’t mean the thing that pumps your blood, and he says he’s not being “touchy-feely.” Spaulding believes that love is at the very basis of every successful organization, and cultivating an unselfish desire to do good for others is integral to leadership.

How many businesspeople do you know, for instance, who make it a point to know a little bit about each of their employees? Spaulding introduces readers to CEOs who do, and he explains how that genuine interest and compassion drives results in attainment, shareholder success, sustainability, and bottom lines.

He tells stories about how love changed the cultures — and profitability — of formerly-failing companies. And he writes about one entrepreneur who forgave big, and the lives it changed.

It’s all about relationships, he says, and one statement sums up everything: “do right.” It also helps to know who you are, who you serve, and who you love. That knowledge, says Spaulding, will make you a “Who Leader” and will further your path to become a Heart Led Leader.

Other things to take with you: openness, which Spaulding claims works in places other than business; humility, which helps you think of others more; and emotional vulnerability, which allows others to be vulnerable, too.

Have a keen passion for what you do and display it to your employees and customers. Practice selflessness by never losing sight of the overall team. Be someone who’s genuine. Have (and demonstrate) faith in yourself and those who work for you. Show empathy to employees by remembering that they have hard times, too.  Learn to forgive.  Offer encouragement. Be honest.

Oh, I tried so hard to like this book. I really did. Instead, “The Heart Led Leader” kind of made me squirm: despite author Tommy Spaulding’s assurances that his method isn’t new-agey-touchy, I sure did feel like it was.

Yes, I’ll admit that some of what Spaulding espouses is sound. Employees do appreciate caring bosses, and they’ll tend to emulate CEOs with passion. I can’t imagine having a workplace without dignity or authenticity, and every business owner in the world understands the importance of good relationships. But there are limits, I think, and this book tiptoed pretty close to there. The advice is good, in other words, but I question the open emotions-forward methods.

I think what’s inside this book may certainly work in some places. In others, definitely not, and readers should be watchful of that. “The Heart Led Leader” may turn your business around — or you may not love it one bit.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected].

Updated: 
11/06/2016 - 8:12am

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