“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.”
~Eleanor Roosevelt

Obviously a much-heralded leadership competency is Emotional Intelligence. Especially now.

With everything so uncertain and so many of us so triggered, I need to be even more aware of my own emotions, actions, reactions, needs, and triggers. In other words, I need to use my head to stay calm and stay connected (and connectable) with others.

And especially now, I need to be willing to allow space for the emotions, reactions, needs, and triggers of those around me. Not to necessarily accept poor behavior or angry outbursts, but to practice understanding and compassion when the people I work with and/or live with show up not at their best. In other words, I need to use my heart to stay calm and stay connected (and connectable) with others.

Eleanor Roosevelt knew what she was talking about.

With my head, I can think through what I’m doing and how I’m responding. I can notice my reactions that are not in proportion to the stimulus and think through what old hurt I’m layering onto the current situation. Am I snapping at my colleague because of what someone else at a prior job did to set me up to fail? Am I afraid of getting yelled at because I was yelled at years ago…by someone I don’t speak with anymore? If I can find a pause, and distinguish my present from my past, I can use my head and manage myself.

I was talking with a client the other day about his new job. We discussed how he needed to show up intentionally with new people, and then I used the four-letter word that I sometimes use with clients. “In every situation,” I pointed out, “you have the option to come from fear or to come from love (the four-letter word). How can you use your heart to handle them?” I asked him. “How can you allow for their humanness and be open to their ideas, perspectives, and good and bad responses and reactions?” I challenged him.

Our heads and hearts are both necessary, and in truth, they’re both necessary for handling ourselves and for handling others. And it’s good to make sure we’re playing close attention to what we’re doing and why we may be doing it – with our head – and allowing for others to feel welcome and accepted by us – with our hearts.

How do you use your head and heart?
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If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.


For support in using your head and your heart, contact Lisa at lkohn@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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Photo Credit: Aquasnap/Bigstock.com

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