Five Heart Based Leadership Tactics

Partnering with many highly technical leaders throughout the years, I have come to understand the direct communication style. They get to the point quickly, using as few words as possible, with a purposeful tone. They exude an air of authority. This past week was no different. I presented a leadership program to a group of senior leaders who were experts in their technical abilities and very firm in the way they shared their insights. They commanded a stage-type presence with a “been there, done that” attitude. So walking into a room filled with these confident seasoned leaders seemed a bit daunting. Well sort of.

As I opened my presentation with my leadership story, their eyes widened and stayed focused. Their facial expressions moved from stiffness to openness. I could see a transformation happening right in front of me. Within each of these senior leaders there was kindheartedness just waiting for the opportunity to emerge.

Then I asked them to share their leadership story and a leader in their lives who impacted their trajectory. And the doors opened wide with their stories and lessons. Let’s just say what they learned about each other that day changed their relationships with each other immensely.

Similar to what happened in my session, can take place on all of our teams and in our organizations. Leaders just need some ways to be more open themselves and cultivate a psychologically safe workplace.

Here are five heart based leadership tactics:


When I stood in front of the senior leaders I wasn’t sure how they were going to react to my story. But what you will see is that when we are sincere in letting others in on our mistakes and failures, we build rapport and deeper connections. When the senior leaders shared their imperfect stories filled with challenges they overcame, a community of transparency and trust began to build that day.


We become approachable leaders if we are able to:

  • Be generous with our time with others
  • Listen with curiosity and deep focus
  • Ask questions to help others explore and grow
  • Stay open-minded and don’t come into discussions with preconceived ideas


It may be difficult for some of us to include different perspectives or even weigh suggestions that seem far-fetched, but heart based leaders welcome lively discussions and an exchange of divergent opinions. Heart based leaders are sensitive to introverts who may have a tough time speaking up in team meetings. They reach out to team members who may need extra time to prepare ahead of the meeting and empower them to share their ideas.


When we uncross our arms and face others with a smile, we are sending the message that we value others and care about their obstacles and successes. When we have good eye contact and listen without interrupting we are heart based leaders putting the needs of team members before our own. Think about how your hand gestures and body language align with your words. And remember your words can often be misinterpreted if our nonverbals don’t align.


If a critical element of leadership is developing future leaders, let’s commit to being part of their leadership stories. Let’s support colleagues and team members in their growth by being heart based leaders.

What heart based tactics have you brought into your leadership?

(Image Credit: Pixabay)

8 thoughts on “Five Heart Based Leadership Tactics

  1. Like you, I have found that stories are so important when it comes to engaging people. We just can’t resist a good story! We feel empathy and involvement with another person as they tell their story. And we can see it in their expressions…a great reminder as we evolve into a leader with a heart…

  2. I agree that storytelling is such a powerful way to connect people and build meaningful relationships. I was amazed how the senior leaders in my session were able to be vulnerable and share their challenges and mistakes and successes.

    Thanks LaRae for sharing your thoughts!

  3. Great post Terri – I too have been in rooms full of top executives with a similar attitude. But when you asked the question about who poured into their lives, who made a difference in their leadership story, the room was abuzz with great stories and fantastic examples of excellent leadership. Great post – I especially like #5 – “Become a part of someone else’s leadership story.” That in a nutshell is what it’s really all about. Making a difference in the lives of others. Excellent!

  4. Love your call to action at the end – become a part of someone else’s leadership story. Talk about living in a way that creates our legacy with purpose and intention.

    It’s amazing how a training event can create the space to share stories and bring teams together in ways that last far beyond their time in the classroom. That’s why I’m such a huge supporter of classroom based learning. Yes, there are a lot of things that can be taught online but making a human connection isn’t one of them.


  5. It is so fascinating to see how we remember the leaders with gratitude who impacted our leadership journeys. Those mentors often saw possibilities in us that we were not able to see clearly. And yes, if leadership is ultimately about developing future leaders then each of us needs to be purposeful on how we can assist the growth of our team members and colleagues.

    Thanks so much Kaylene for sharing your story!

  6. You said it beautifully about the benefits of having a face-to-face training or work session. When leaders are able to read the emotions of others and connect in a trusting training space, authentic sharing will prevail. Storytelling is a profound way to show others we are human and encounter obstacles that often throw our leadership off. It is through our missteps that we gain great lessons that hopefully will help others propel forward.

    Thanks Alli for talking about the positive aspects of classroom based learning!

  7. Terri – I love that you started with your story, and love it even more that you got them to share their story. It is so easy to imagine each one beginning to see each other as more human, while learning more about them. Such a powerful way to start a session and build a team!

  8. Stories connect leaders and help them share authentic emotions and feelings. Through our stories we are able to see how we handled roadblocks that could have prevented us from moving forward in our leadership trajectories. I think the senior leaders were pleasantly surprised how much they grew that day.

    Thanks Chery for chiming in with your wonderful additions!

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