Lead from Your Heart, Intentionally

I reflect regularly on my best bosses. I analyze how they took widely varying players with differing skill sets, experiences, and personalities and helped each of us genuinely contribute while we immensely enjoyed our work environment, our peers, and our customers.

That’s a pretty remarkable task – and this kind of leadership is exactly what our world needs today. We each want and need bosses that create safe, inspiring workplaces where all team members genuinely contribute.

The Secret to Being Your Employees’ Best Boss

As I look at my best boss’ personalities, behaviors, and values, what comes clear to me is that they each were very clear on who they were as a person. They understood what their life purpose and values were. That clarity helped them understand who they were as a leader. That, in turn, helped them serve us team members so effectively.

Who you are as a person is very clear to those around you. Every plan, decision, and action you make and take tells others exactly what your life purpose is and core values are.

A recent news story is a perfect example. The owner of a convenience store chain in Iowa, USA, held a contest for employees to guess which of their peers would be fired next. He offered a $10 cash prize to workers who accurately predicted the next “victim.” A number of employees quit and applied for unemployment benefits. The owner challenged their claim. The judge granted their claims, indicating that the owner had created a hostile work environment.

This man’s actions let others around him see his core purpose and values clearly.

Start with Clarity, Live in Alignment

If you’re not 100% proud of your plans, decisions, and actions up to now, you need to clarify who you are. You might start with Ken & Margie Blanchard’s “Leadership Point of View,” a powerful process that many have used to clarify their life purpose and values.

Once your purpose and values (defined in behavioral terms) have been formalized, you can use them as a standard to examine whether you are behaving consistently with that purpose and those values. Keep them at your fingertips, in front of you, so you can monitor your plans, decisions, and actions for alignment daily.

It is easy to “assume” your plans, decisions, and actions are values-aligned with your heart. Assuming doesn’t work. You need to share your purpose & values with your direct reports and tell them you’ll need their help to understand how well you’re living your purpose and your values. Then you must proactively seek out feedback to learn how well others’ perceive your efforts. If they say you are behaving in alignment with your purpose and values, good work. If they say you are not behaving in alignment, refine your plans, decisions, and actions . . . and continue seeking feedback.

Over time, you’ll get really good at serving others. Staff will love working with you, your team will exceed performance standards, and customers will love working with your team.

To learn more about leading from your heart, I invite you to join the #LeadFromWithin community on Twitter. Founded by the incredible Lolly Daskal, a global group of heart-driven leaders join together on Tuesday nights from 8-9pm EST to examine how to best lead from within. Everyone is welcome; all may participate. The insights derived from the questions and responses during this weekly chat will inspire you.

Please share your insights about living in alignment with your purpose and values in the comments section below.

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  • Excellent post Chris! Love it!

    • Thanks for the kudos, John – I’m excited to see these key ideas resonate with folks!



  • A very good post, Chris.

    Thank you for reminding us to reflect and ensure we act in Life and Leadership with purpose. But with the most important purpose in mind, our people.


    • Thank so much, my man. I figure, when I need these reminders it can’t hurt to share the insights – and intentions – with my readers!



  • A couple of times in this article you made the point about a boss serving their team members. This is a really interesting and useful perspective.

    • That reference is intentional – effective leaders see their role as in service to their followers! Thanks, Simon.

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