So what is Wholehearted Leadership all about?

Wholehearted leadership – the next level of leadership

Are you ready for the next level of leadership? Are you prepared to ditch the competency framework and engage your workforce wholeheartedly? Then the practice of Wholehearted Leadership might just be for you.

In developing an awareness of what wholehearted leadership is all about we need to recognise this is a relatively new idea in positive psychology, although it draws on some very old wisdom. The idea of wholehearted leadership has largely been championed in books, articles and popular TED Talks by Brene Brown PhD, who conceptualised the idea in her 2012 book ‘Daring Greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love parent and lead.” Dr Brown states that the only choice is one of “engagement” and that we need to be “all in”. So what does that mean for me, you and the leadership we want to develop in our organisations?

Understanding wholehearted leadership

It means that to understand what wholehearted leadership is all about we need to look long and hard in the mirror before we engage with our teams. To be “all in” requires courage, compassion and connection…with ourselves first and then with our teams. It takes courage to look in the mirror and identify our vulnerability, to actually acknowledge the little voice that says “that’s not for you”…or “better keep that mistake to myself”. Dr Brown continues by saying that we need to “understand our vulnerability” suggesting that once we do we can think, act and engage without moderating our behaviour because of our shortcomings and vulnerabilities. Often the first step in acknowledging our vulnerabilities is to “share your story” with someone who deserves the long version, someone who can really listen and be “with you”. This might be your colleague, your mentor or your leadership coach. Dr Brown keenly identifies that we need to “own our part in our story” if we are to be the writers of our own future.

Acknowledging our vulnerabilities

If we can acknowledge our own vulnerabilities then we have taken a step on the path to wholehearted leadership. Make no mistake, this is not easy work and will take compassion and the help of others. My research and work with organisations has allowed me to witness what Dr Brown sees as the underpinnings of wholehearted leadership, being: Courage, Compassion and Connection. Each are worthy of exploration in your own life and I would recommend reading more on these topics if wholehearted leadership is an aspiration for you. I have spent the last two and half years exploring, reading and researching these subjects and getting to know what they mean to you will enable you to engage your teams wholeheartedly. In the meantime, however, Dr Brown has crafted ten guideposts which allow us to engage from a place of worthiness.

Guideposts of wholeheartedness:
1. Authenticity
2. Compassion
3. Resilience
4. Gratitude and Joy
5. Intuition (and) Trusting Faith (in oneself and others)
6. Creativity
7. Play (and) Rest
8. Calmness and Stillness
9. Meaningful work
10. Laughter, Song & Dance

Authentic wholehearted leadership

Wholehearted leadership is not about the fast track or getting to the end in five easy steps, it is about the real, best and most authentic version of you engaging with your teams with courage, compassion and connection. It might simply be the courage to say “I don’t know” or sitting with someone going through a tough time at home or sitting down with your latest recruit to ask them what they think you should be doing.

My work and research is demonstrating that wholehearted leaders love their job, they care deeply about their organisation, staff and customers and focus on development first…performance then comes in to orbit. Why not take your first step today…

Brown, B (2012). Daring Greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love parent and lead. Portfolio Penguin

Dean Weller Bio:
A gentle and compassionate Coach and Consultant Dean has worked with over 400 executives, business leaders and career changers; conducting over 1,000 hours of 1.2.1 coaching since 2010. Author of ‘THE Career Workbook’ and Editor of ‘Tight Spots’ Dean continues to write, research and work in the field of Applied Positive Psychology and Career Planning with specific interest in Positive Organisational Performance and Leadership Careers. With 20 years’ experience in managing and leading high performing teams Dean offers practical solutions underpinned by the latest research from the science of Positive Psychology backed up qualifications in HR, Strengths Coaching and Career Management.

‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’

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