C-Suite Advisory

The 9 principles of being a heartfelt leader

For too long, the world has adopted a masculine approach to leadership.  Leadership that is heavy on logic, mathematics, and results.  Nothing wrong with this.  It gets things done.  But at what price?

In your workplace, you might recognize leadership principles from the past.  Decision making that heavy on command and control.  The leader is always right approach. The trouble with this type of leadership is that your team are likely to be lukewarm or passive and generally in need of constant supervision or direction. The heartfelt leadership model challenges this well-worn practice and proposes that if you want to lead people, you need to reorient your leadership to a more balanced approach.

Heartfelt Leadership

Heartfelt Leadership is about two things: fixing work, people and team problems, and then understanding the deeper reasons why you have the issues in the first place. It’s a practical model to get things done with your team and contains nine practical principles to improve your work life. It’s also a philosophical approach to leadership.  Simply put, heartfelt leadership is a new model of influence based on courage and growth, not command and control.  

The nine principles

The nine heartfelt principles have helped many leaders and managers to find their way out of the day-to-day management pain and into a more courageous style of decision making and leadership.

You might like to dip into the nine principles to solve immediate problems.  Or, like many people, you might like to adopt the principles in an orderly and logical fashion.  Either way, the nine principles demand that you know who you are and where you are going.

Principle 1: Get clear about what you want

As a heartfelt leader you will need to get clear about what you want, in life and at work.  Because, how you choose to invest your life energy matters, otherwise you can end up spending too much time living someone else’s life.  A heartfelt leader will consciously choose their direction and balance their need for results with a healthy dose of creativity.

Principle 2: Work backwards

Projects and life work best when you let your guard down and allow your heart, rather than your head, to take control.  Chaos, mess and your heart can deliver real change, innovation and fun at work.  But, if you are going somewhere great, you still need a solid plan. A plan that works backwards to what you want and one that allows for some chaos and innovation along the way.

Principle 3: Take responsibility for your own sh%t

As you take responsibility for yourself, and your leadership journey, the problems you encounter are never about ‘them’ but about YOUR perception of the problem.  A heartfelt leader will balance their intuition and with their logic to do this important personal development work.  Tapping into your intuition, your gut, will give you access to the best version of yourself as a leader.

Principle 4: Have difficult conversations

Heartfelt leaders build respect, in the trenches, by doing tough stuff with their team and calling out each other’s bullshit. Having face-to-face conversations is all that really matters to a heartfelt leader.  Conversations allow you to both build relationships and make sure that tasks get done.

Principle 5: Choose your words

Getting things done matters.  But, as a leader, HOW you get things done also matters. And, the words you use, matter a LOT.  Use your words wisely and you will find that they release you from doing too much yourself.  A simple switch in words from ‘why’ to ‘how’ can uncover new ways of doing the things that you do.

Principle 6: Keep it real for you and your team

An organisation that is tightly controlled stifles innovation and change.  And, a lack of personal and team accountability lets us off the hook. A heartfelt leader will look to their people and projects as opportunities to build responsibility.  And, when you keep it real for your team, your leadership will become more balanced and open to change.

Principle 7: Feed your team their favourite food

As a leader, you are human.  You might fall into the trap of telling your people what you want them to know AND what you want them to do. By communicating what your team wants to know, not what you want to be done, you will engage your team and create loyalty.  As a heartfelt leader you will feed them, what they truly want. 

Principle 8: Celebrate success because life is short

Your influence as a leader is temporary.  You too are ageing and changing.  Heartfelt leaders make the most of their influence by taking the time to pause, reflect and celebrate. Given that we are all going to be dead soon, lets enjoy the ride and make sure that our legacy reflects who we indeed are.

Principle 9: Know that life is an iterative process 

Leadership and life are not linear processes.  Both get easier the more you do them, and you get better as you learn to balance your energies for the greater good. As a heartfelt leader you learn, grow, and develop through iterations.  You learn from your projects, your leadership endeavours and life.  

Embracing heartfelt leadership will require you to grow, to be self-aware and to take personal responsibility for your leadership results. To understand and evolve as a heartfelt leader, you will need to be courageous with your energy and brave with your life.


Written by Kerry Swan.

Have you read?

Best CEOs In the World Of 2022.
TOP Citizenship by Investment Programs, 2022.
Top Residence by Investment Programs, 2022.
Global Passport Ranking, 2022.
The World’s Richest People (Top 100 Billionaires, 2022).
Jamie Dimon: The World’s Most Powerful Banker.

Track Latest News Live on CEOWORLD magazine and get news updates from the United States and around the world. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of the CEOWORLD magazine.
Follow CEOWORLD magazine headlines on Google News, Twitter, and Facebook. For media queries, please contact: info@ceoworld.biz
Kerry Swan
Kerry Swan, the author of Heartfelt Leadership (Publish Central $29.95), is a born-and-bred project manager. With more than 20 years of experience as a self-employed consultant, coach, and teacher, Kerry has worked with hundreds of leaders. These days Kerry works with her husband Craig across their diverse range of family businesses. With interests in real estate, earthmoving, and agribusiness and a team of 35 people, Kerry loves leadership.


Kerry Swan is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow her on LinkedIn. For more information, visit the author’s website.