The Leader’s Five-Question Heart Check
Leaders – and managers for that matter — need to have a heart. If it is your job to guide human beings to be their very best, you need to look at your underlying assumptions about people.
In the age of Mass Production it was easy to see people as simply extensions of the machinery; what we couldn’t automate we hired “hands” to do. Seeing people as a means of getting the work done was a mechanistic way of thinking in a mechanistic era.
One of the consequences of this way of thinking was the birth of unions. Employers who took advantage of their people forced the people to fend for themselves and protect their rights.
Leading any organization is an awesome responsibility – and I mean HUGE responsibility. Not only do we as leaders have accountability to ensure our complex organization efficiently delivers what customers need, but we have the moral responsibility to create a workplace where humans can thrive – can be fully human.
In the age of Mass Customization – far more than during the hay days of Mass Production – we need our people to operate without fear. How can an employee customize to meet the needs of a demanding customer if that employee is afraid to make choices and decisions?
I have boy/girl 5-year-old twins and they watch a puppet program where the host regularly does “heart checks” when there’s conflict, selfishness or an unforgiving spirit. In the heart check she tries to help the offending puppet assess its motivations. It’s cute but more importantly it helps my kids learn to assess their own motivations when things are not going well.
Here are five questions to test how engaged your heart is with your employees:
- What do I really believe about the people who work for me?
- What do I want for them and what do they want for themselves?
- How can I best serve them in the context of our business?
- Do they feel safe in my organization to be fully human?
- Do I genuinely appreciate and acknowledge their unique talents?
Over the years it is too easy to get cynical about people. After all, we humans are a messy lot. We are emotional, passionate, quirky and, at times, irrational. But that is all part of being human and all part of what we as leaders have to appreciate.
While it is tempting to try to simplify the reality of humans – which is why a mechanistic view is so appealing – in the end embracing human nature is far more caring and far better for business.
When did you have your last “heart check” about the employees you manage?