May 8, 2011

Power of Heart and Feelings in Business, Leadership and Management

This blog post is an answer to a Question you asked me, after a blog post


To a complete person belongs the power of thought, the power of will, and the power of heart. The power of thought is the light of knowledge (i.e. competence), the power of will is energy (i.e. character), the power of heart is love (i.e. care/empathy).

Businesses and business schools focus mainly on Knowing (competence) and on Being (character) but almost never on Feeling (empathy). However, the 3 together are needed to obtain a high level of consciousness and understanding of our environment. Feeling makes us more aware of signals changing around us and helps us anticipate and reshape strategies. Our sensory abilities combined with our intellect and emotions feed our imagination, which is a source of great creativity and innovation. Empathy helps us be careful of our environment and of our business ecosystem in general.

So why is it, in your view, that love and feelings are typically completely dissociated with the study and practice of Business?

(This question is sent by Herve Pourcines, a managing partner at Nova Trust Advisors, a boutique advisory firm based in the Middle East that specializes in strategy definition, leadership and turnaround management. He is also a regular contributor to Al Ahram Weekly, the Middle East largest newspaper in English, on topics ranging from the environment, alternative energy and corporate management.)


Hi Herve and thanks for the question that I deeply care about. What you state in the introduction of your question is what I believe, am aware of, and used in business i.e. managerial/leadership roles for the best results. In fact, I was only most successful in areas, roles (or projects) I cared about, was emotionally involved in, and managed to involve my teams, too.

What Do I Recommend to Leaders?

I believe, practice and promote Strengths Based Management, that includes talent, competence (knowledge and skills), followed by feelings (passion, purpose, fulfillment etc.)

Simplified formula would go like this:
Your Strength = Knowledge + Skills + Talent + Positive Feelings

The theory, research and my experience confirm that using your strengths at work on a regular basis is what makes you most productive, creative, innovative and happy. That way you win and the company wins by getting excellent performance from you. I experienced that, and keep shaping my own business strategy around the concept, as it is where I do see the best result.

If you check out my ''Success library'' page, with (my favorite) books I recommend, they include power of heart / feelings. At least that is the way I see it, and I made sure to highlight emotional component of management or business , that bring out the engagement of employees (who I like to call simply -- people).

My Experience With Feelings in Business

I don't have any hard evidence, just an impression that more people are embracing the idea you are formulating before asking the question. I noticed that Emotional intelligence is something people talk more about. Interestingly, Strengths Finder 2.0 was No. 1 bestselling book of 2010. (on the 800CEO read blog and Inc. magazine's list) so this tells me that executives and professionals are very interested in the concept of strengths - that include purpose, passion, feelings of joy, and fulfillment. (Empathy is one of my Top 5 talent themes according to Strengths Finder 2.0. It went a long way for me in my management and coaching career.)

It seems we are not ready (anymore) to just trade hours for money, and that love, feelings and passion are more frequently introduced in business and management literature or courses lately. Such values, experience and beliefs inspired me to post articles like

where CEO of Starbucks, Chairman of Virgin Group and Ford Motors give some examples about the role of feelings in their business decisions or practices.

and even

I wrote these articles not because I am too soft, emotional, forgot about competence, knowledge, skills, frameworks, ''dry'' strategies, or believe feelings are enough to make profit -- but because I (like you) know it is always people who have to put it all to work. People with ''the power of thought, the power of will, and the power of heart.'' as you say. I know I need them all to be successful, and others do too.

Does anyone believe processes, models, strategies, frameworks, diagrams, or most brilliant reasoning can engage, excite, inspire and move people on its own? To get a whole person, the best he/she can give (and more), you have to speak to whole person, to his mind and heart. Is it easier said than done? It is. Is it worth trying? It is.

Working with business people, managers/leaders one on one, I get to see how much they are driven, or frustrated with power of emotions we all have to deal with, and am delighted every time we managed to recognize and channel the feelings into a positive business outcome.

Just to make it clear, I do not believe we should all be best friends, laugh, cry, go around hugging each other, or keep giving positive feedback even when things are wrong. That is not love, care, or empathy for me. It can also harm business result, and we are talking business here.

Simply put, I believe in being kind, caring and understanding with people, and ruthless with business goals.

The best bosses I had were tough, demanding and not always the most pleasant people to be around, but gained my loyalty and respect by supporting me in moments when I was facing greatest challenges. The care and empathy they demonstrated when I needed it most, and was at my lowest, made me never wanting to let them down in business. That was a powerful lesson for me. Not all people will appreciate that, but most will, especially ones you you want on your team, right?

Why Are Feelings Important For Business?

From my experience as a manager/business leader, consultant and a coach, feelings and heart are important for

  • Best career choice(s)
  • Motivation and engagement of people, and even customers
  • Outstanding levels of performance, dedication, loyalty
  • Decisions about who does what in the team, etc.

All that impact business/performance, so I do not see how they can not be important. If anyone disagrees, just say so please, I would like to hear your point of view, examples or experience.

Complete person comes to work with ''thought, will and heart'' and why not use that power? I think there is a great potential in ''heart'' and I was trying to use mine as well as those of my people.

It is already common belief that the ''higher'' you go - the more important your social/soft skills are, or ability to engage hearts, as well as minds. I don't see how a leader can mobilize people and ''sell'' them the vision, even in business - if not by including and stimulating their hearts/feelings, or show them he/she cares.

You will often find out even when presenting and trying to grab attention that ''people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.''

5 Possible Reasons Why Love and Feelings Do Not Mix With Business (Education)?

Now, back to the question , ''So why is it, in your view, that love and feelings are typically completely dissociated with the study and practice of Business?''

Herve, you are asking a person who agrees, and operates in accordance with what you are stating. Maybe we should ask someone who disagrees?

Still, I will list five possible reasons I can think of at this point:

1. Business is measured by numbers, and feelings are considered intangible, unpredictable, uncontrollable, something that can create havoc, confusion, distract you, or ruin your execution, focus, success.
(It probably can, but in that case you need help and if you manage to channel feelings you can get results others can only dream about.)

2. Talking about feelings is strange, uncomfortable, or not macho enough for guys who want to be seen as powerful. Such guys can be often be found in business. Some might be estranged from their own feelings so they can not even consider or understand other people's.

3. Feelings are (in general) different, hard to explain, impossible to describe with formulas, and something many were raised not to show, especially at work.

4. The whole education system is based on memorizing data, test scores, not on understanding ourselves, our creative potential, differences and talents, let alone the ways we can use it. Now it is hard to change. Business schools certainly do not want to risk it, or do not see their students recognizing it as a value/benefit, otherwise they would hurry to include it in their programs.

5. Feelings can (and do) change often so one lesson, course, or one way of dealing with them is not enough, or effective every time. To understand and use them is constant effort with high risk, but also hopefully high return. Just like in business.

I can think of more, but this seems to be a good start already.

If any (aspiring) business leader is reading this I would like to remind you :
People want to know that you care. They expect that you understand. If you want to know how, please contact me.

So I wish you good luck in using all your resources, potential and power. At the time when we all need stronger economy, more jobs and more hope, we need all powers we can engage.

What do you think about this question, the answer I wrote or the ways we can all benefit more from power of heart and feelings in business?

To get more articles, updates, free or special offers, and to download my e-book''Productive Executive/Manager - Manage Interruptions at Work'', join the mailing list if you haven't done so already.


  1. Dear Ljiljana,
    Thank you for this comprehensive answer with its enlightening points!
    It will definitely help put things in perspective and it is always good to find like-minded professionals.
    Cheers & regards,

  2. Dear Herve, thank you for letting me express my opinion and feelings, of course.
    I am flattered by your compliment and wish you and your people all the best.


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