Are You Leading with Your Head, Heart, or Gut?

Human beings have access to three kinds of intelligence: our rational minds (head), our emotions (heart), and our intuition (gut). The problem is that we are generally trained and encouraged to use only our heads or so-called rational thinking.

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Are You Leading with Your Head, Heart, or Gut?

Human beings have access to three kinds of intelligence: our rational minds (head), our emotions (heart), and our intuition (gut).

The problem is that we are generally trained and encouraged to use only our heads or so-called rational thinking.

We analyze numbers, data, and empirical information to determine facts. We evaluate business by the “bottom line”. We believe “truths” because they have been proven in studies and research.

We talk about “evidence-based” solutions as the only ones that are valid, but we all know that’s a myth.

Numbers and data can be manipulated. Research can be biased. Evidence is amassed to prove what we want it to prove.

No, I’m not saying that data and numbers and research are bad. They’re not. They provide valuable input.

What I am saying is that they don’t tell the whole story.

February is women’s heart health month, and while I’m not going to directly address our physical heart health, the theme for the month at Daring to Transcend will be the health of our emotional intellect.

Daniel Goleman popularized the phrase Emotional Intelligence in 2005 in his ground-breaking book by the same name. He named five components of emotional intelligence; the first of which is self-awareness.

Yet, true emotional intelligence continues to be elusive to many leaders.

Why? Because emotions don’t belong in business. It’s all about the numbers. Right?

How many times as a women leader have you been warned about being or appearing too emotional? I know I was.

It’s an unfair stigma that still exists in a world where stoicism and dispassionate reasoning are frequently valued above all else.

But human beings are emotional beings.

Our emotions give us a lot of valuable information that we tend to ignore, suppress, or discount.

Yet, the intelligence we can get from our emotions, from our hearts can make or break families, relationships, and, yes, even our businesses and organizations.

Our emotions are another tool that we can use to become better leaders, better family members and friends, and happier people.

Does that mean we can have temper tantrums to our hearts’ delight? Of course not.

Emotions like pleasure, guilt, or indifference can be a good gauge of whether an action or decision is aligned with our values and beliefs.

Anger can tell us that something is wrong. A boundary had been violated or some injustice has occurred.

Annoyance or irritation can guide us to look at where our needs aren’t being met or where we’re compromising too much.

Feeling and acknowledging our emotions doesn’t mean wallowing in them.

As the Positive Intelligence® framework teaches, negative emotions are like putting your hand on a hot stove. The pain is a warning to pull back, that danger is imminent, and you don’t want to leave your hand there.

You don’t want to stay in anger or guilt or annoyance, but you do want to recognize those emotions and listen to what they may be telling you rather than just suppressing them and moving on.

That’s what I used to do. Emotions had no place – or so I thought – so I would feel the emotions and then talk myself out of feeling them using logic and rationality.

Guess what? It didn’t work.

When I started listening to my emotions and understanding what they were telling me, it was a game changer.

Do you listen to your emotions or try to rationalize them out of existence?

No judgment, please.

Just pay attention this week and see what you learn.

Next week, we’ll explore the basis of all negative emotions. Stay tuned.

More To Explore

Woman walking in a park between trees. The leaves are gold and the ground is covered with leaves too.

Mastering Emotions Is NOT a Matter of Willpower

As leaders, especially women leaders, we’re usually taught to mask our negative emotions and be positive, upbeat, and energetic. After all, we’re setting an example for our teams and colleagues.

But what if you don’t FEEL positive and upbeat?

We’re supposed to power through, use our willpower to paste that smile on our face and maintain that “can do” attitude, right? How does that work for you?