Recently, I had an “out of office” reply which says: “I am away from the office taking care of “life” and replenishing to better serve you when I return.”
For all Signature graduates, you have now experienced your Signature journey as Leadership AND Life. For 17 days, I had the pleasure of stepping away from Signature to spend time with my daughter and the arrival of my 4th grandchild. A complete focus on “life” and how it all begins. As I hold baby Makayla and watch her tiny chest slightly move with her breathing, I can feel her heart beating. And I pause to marvel.
“If you are willing to feel everything, you can do anything.”
A month ago, I brought together the Signature Surge group, a small leadership circle of 25 top female executives who meet throughout the year. Our time together focused on Emotional Courage. This is the courage to feel. Peter Bregman, our facilitator, is the author of the book Leading with Emotional Courage. The book’s premise is that growing our emotional courage is the root to our success.
The timing of having Peter in this session couldn’t have been better for everyone in that room. Our executives were dealing with so much, from acquisitions and supply chain issues to losing talent in the latest talent war to spending more time with their people to ensure they felt valued and cared for. All this at the expense of allowing themselves to feel the emotions they were holding back in order to manage everything on their plate.
As Peter pointed out: “any gap you have in emotional courage limits your freedom to act. When you avoid feeling, it’s a huge drain on your productivity and organizational outcomes.”
During those few days with Surge, Peter said something that hit me hard; it reminded me of why I do what I do. “For your team to buy into your vision with 100% commitment, your leadership passion needs to be 200%.” You can’t work more than 100%, which, as committed, high-achieving leaders we try to do all the time. I realized: I can give 200% with my heart, just not with my body. But that 200% will be the enthusiasm, the energy, the “juice” that fuels everyone around me. Leadership is about heart. If you are passionate about something, the heart of leadership will take you there.
Hubert Joly, former Chairman and CEO of Best Buy and author of The Heart of Business, relays his own experience as, “You can’t transform companies unless we reflect on who we are as leaders.” Transforming Best Buy, with heart, is exactly what Hubert Joly did. His farewell video to the organization in 2020 was attached to an email, titled, “I Love You.” He professes he did not see that coming – the ability to say those words with such emotion several years ago.
I have huge emotion for my business. Every day emails come to me from alumni relating something they learned that worked so well or how Signature was just what they needed to make that next big step. Most of what I hear is the marvel of how a “tiny” change in a behavior or an action has made a huge impact for them.
Which brings me back to tiny Makayla, and the chance to drop everything else on my plate so I can “feel” everything that the birth of a child has to offer. By releasing my need to be 100% productive at work and shifting that energy back to “life,” I am emotionally replenished and reflective on “why I do what I do.”
It has been said that the longest journey you will take as a leader is the 18 inches between your head and your heart. It wasn’t until I started “my Signature chapter” in 2013 – yes, 9 years ago this fall – that I had 200% passion about something. That willingness to feel the huge ups and downs of growing a business I cared so much about was the growth of my own emotional courage. Leadership is about Heart. But we can’t forget that Heart is about Life. You can’t lead with 200% Heart unless you are fully engaged with your life.