When we ask author, teacher and executive John Schuster, who has devoted his career to leadership and human development, what he thinks about incorporating the mind into leadership, he has a lot to say on the topic.
This includes neuroscientific explanations for the connection between the head and the heart, and why business cultures that are not attuned to people often lack mind-centered leadership and execution.
John said: In the world of leadership development, we often hear the phrase “lead with your heart”. Most people agree that good thought leadership is important, but it is rarely implemented in an organization without the elusive “chemical factor” of the human mind. Science helps a lot, taking metaphor-based meanings of the heart and adding evidence-based know-how.
“The cardiac brain, commonly referred to as the intrinsic cardiac nervous system, is a complex network of complex ganglia, neurotransmitters, proteins, and supporting cells, much like the cephalic brain. …and here are the key facts: Yes, the heart sends more information to the brain than the brain sends to the heart.” —Heartmath.org
If you’re unfamiliar with Heartmath, let’s introduce the concept and tie it to some notable leadership classics.The subject of Heartmath focuses on the human heart and how it works. It focuses on the areas of neuroscience and emotional intelligence rather than the physical.
What does this mean for leadership? A curriculum of learning about how the mind and brain work is not enough, but emotional intelligence works well in some places. It depends on your brain, not your energy. Business schools, IT programs, finance/accounting faculties, high schools, vocational education, and college programs of all kinds emphasize the quantitative side of our brain. Heart-centered leadership and execution are undervalued and this creates an organizational culture that doesn’t align with the people within the organization.
One of the current college exceptions here may be Gonzaga University in Washington. It has a strong curriculum in Servant Leadership (which is an entirely separate subfield, but is closely related to the heart factors of leadership. Spears Center for Servant Leadership). To be fair, many quant-focused programs have somewhat expanded their brains and shifted to values, making room for environmental concerns and racial equality considerations. Of course, let’s encourage thinkers and companies that are deeply committed to these value-based concerns. Also, with a greater emphasis on heart and brain learning, all such efforts will pay off.
The heart-brain problem predates the discovery of neuroscience and was deeply recognized by many thinkers. For example, to remind you of a leader you have rooted in your heart and introduce him to a younger audience who may not know his work, in case you forget: Finally, I would like to say thank you. Between the two, the leader must become a servant and a debtor. It summarizes the progress of a successful leader. ‘” Max DePree said in his 1989 book. Leadership is an art.
I met Max once and heard him speak at a Servant Leadership Conference in the 1990s.But one of his book’s Amazon reviewers wasn’t enthusiastic “…really, it all boils down to ‘being kind to others’, but who really needs a book to tell you that?” This shows that some authors in leadership are at such extremes that without neuroscience it sounds vulgar. Folk common sense is too soft for most people who are mostly analytically oriented, and the threat of intellectual denial always lurks.
Still, I recommend his common sense, clear advice and angles (and sometimes in a very cautious religious tone). Like this: “The measure of leadership is not the quality of the head, but the tone of the body. The signs of good leadership appear primarily in followers. Are followers reaching their potential? Are they learning?” Are they achieving the results they need?Do they change gracefully?Managing conflict?” In other words, leaders are service-oriented and committed to achieving their potential. You are leading when you have followers who are oriented towards. That’s a good indicator.
Another contributor to DePree’s contemporary and inclusive leadership school, which includes heart brain, is Kevin Cashman. inclusive leadership (look for the first of several editions) and James Autrey, for love and profit (1992), if you want to see more of his pre-neuroscience contributions.
And Khalil Gibran himself, a figure of Persian wisdom, pre-empted them all. All knowledge is empty unless there is work. Without love, all work is empty. Work is visible love… Baking bread with indifference is baking bitter bread that feeds only half the hunger of man. —The Prophet (1923).
A call to action in these inspiring words:
Here is another Heartmath quote for us to ponder.It was discovered that the heart also manufactures and secretes oxytocin, which can act as a neurotransmitter and is commonly called the love or social bonding hormone. have been shown to be involved in bonds. Surprisingly, the concentration of oxytocin produced in the heart is in the same range as that produced in the brain. “
Go ahead and push your boundaries further than ever before. We grow to be empowering, high performing, fair and just, diverse and inclusive. And it stretches the boundaries even further, making the development of the mind as important, if not more important, than the development of the head. Show me how it’s done. Prototype. This is a call to action that deserves a response.