Marie Reig Florensa is on a journey of discovery, getting to know heart-based creative leaders from around the globe.
A leader of the heart: Are you one of them? is a series of compact, heart-charged articles where executive coach Marie Reig Florensa – together with Carlos El Asmar – explore what it means to “lead from the heart.”
If you’d like some more context, you can read part one of the series here before scrolling down!
The short answer is: yes, we are all leaders.
Because the truth is that we are always generating an impact and influencing change in the way we think, feel, talk, act and relate to others. From the lady in the hotel lobby to the taxi driver, your neighbor, and even the anonymous citizen on the metro, we are influencing and generating an impact on everyone, even when we do not realize it. Yes even, your colleague that’s sitting next to you, the one on your last video call, and the one at the other end of your next email.
You might be wondering… “If that is true, then what type of leader am I?”
Well, what type of leader would you like to be? Better said, let’s start the other way round:
What type of leader would you dare to follow without hesitation?
“It would have to be a leader who gives credit to their team for every accomplishment, and takes the blame for any failure. Someone who when involved in the politics of the organization aims to benefit the team, the product, and the organization, not themself. A leader that cares about the people. That is in fact, the kind of leader that I aspire to be. As a creative leader, my role is to influence change, motivate people, spread whatever knowledge I have, and keep learning more. Everything is a learning experience.” Carlos El Asmar
As Carlos describes, true leaders of the heart are intentional in seeking to generate the best possible impact. They support others’ growth because they understand that “Leadership at its core is about harnessing others’ efforts to achieve something no one can achieve alone,” as Amy Edmonson (leadership, teaming, and organizational learning scholar) points out. “It’s about helping people go as far as they can with the talents and skills they have.”
Back to you. If you aim to play your best game, there are two fundamental principles to observe. First, everything generates an impact in our society, even when we do not see the consequences at the other end of our acts.
Second, nothing can be achieved individually or in isolation from others. You have heard it before and here comes it again: life is a team sport. Therefore, the only way to step up to your best self is to play the team game.
“I strive to support my team’s growth….To see people change, to bring people together and see them accomplish. Those are the things that I have fun with and bring me joy. I am a teacher, and a mentor, who thrives on helping people grow and overcoming challenges. The team always comes first.” Carlos El Asmar
Let’s zoom in to take a close-up shot:
Name one person that has made you who you are.
Have you got it? How did this person influence you?
Take a few seconds to remember the details of it.
What do you see? What do you feel?
Now, try to find at least five more people who made an impact on you, your career, or your creativity. You might know them by their names or just have seen them on the web. Take a wide shot of them all and observe: what do they all have in common?
Take a few moments to sit with that before you move on.
My big ‘aha’ moment when I first did this exercise was:
You make me the way I am, I make you the way you are. In other words, we become who we are in our interactions with others.
Even if sometimes I pretend I am not, the truth is I’m a bit like my mother and father. I have some things I like, and some others I don’t, from my siblings and my family clan. But I’m grateful for the influence I’ve had from amazing friends and wonderful colleagues I’ve met along my way.
What did you observe in yourself?
If any of this resonates, I invite you to take on a simple yet profound coaching exercise.
Make a list of five things that make you who you are.
Next to each of them, note who you may have got them from?
Making an impact is just unavoidable, it is human nature. As children and adults, we learn and grow by observing and coping behaviors. We spend all our life constantly looking at and interacting with others. We are social animals. From this perspective, it is much easier to realize the profound power of finding examples.
Yet if we are to talk about “universal leadership,” affirming, as I do in this post, that we are all leaders, we still need to take one step further. Let’s take on the opportunity to contemplate the following:
Have you ever got inspired by an anonymous person that crossed your path when you least expected it or needed it most? When was the last time you saw someone doing something that generated a “positive or negative” impact on you?
Close your eyes and take a moment to discern.
Maybe you have opened your eyes to the realisation that you are being that person every day. Remember, your actions (however big or small) influence others, even when you don’t realize it.
“All of us always leave our mark on the world because we always have a legacy with people…. For me who you are as a person is more important than who you are as a professional.” Carlos El Asmar
Back to your career and personal journey.
How many opportunities have come from a friend of a friend, someone you once met, or even someone you previously helped?
Shall I share a secret?
The key to success lies in the quality of interpersonal relationships. Thus anything and everything that you would ever achieve depends on that. Think about it, isn’t it always people who make things happen? Teams, organizations, and society are ultimately made out of individuals.
No matter if you are leading a team or leading yourself, the real question is not whether you are a leader or not, but what kind of leader you are.
So… one more time: What kind of leader do you want to be?
As Carlos says: “to spread kindness and love is a superpower. When acting from a position of respect, presence, consciousness, and intention then every single gesture is a weapon for mass construction. Leadership is made of choice, it requires responsibility and care. Nothing feels better than being treated with respect and self-worth…. Nurturing relationships, love & kindness, and equality are my values.” Carlos El Asmar
The world is made of ongoing change. Taking responsibility as a leader is about acting on our ability to respond to whatever life presents to us. At home, at work, on the street, and even in the new digital universe. All of these things build up.
“Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming [more of] yourself. It is precisely that simple, and it is also that difficult.” – Warren Bennis, Scholar & Leadership author
Leadership is about setting direction, influencing change, and inspiring others. We can only truly do so from our most authentic selves. Leading from and with the heart is a “moment by moment” choice to step up to the best version of ourselves. The one that brings into alignment what you think, with what you feel, what you do, what you are part of, and what you become. It is then that a whole new level of the leading energy is catalyzed.
“Integrity is when you think, feel, say, and act in alignment. When you do so, there is a stronger energy that is perceived in the room.” – Carlos El Asmar
Leadership is a state of being. It all starts with the self. Because the self is the only one that you have true power over. It is when you change yourself, that it changes the way you impact others. That is how we truly change and influence the world, at work and in our everyday. I dare you to try it out and observe the domino effect.
I truly believe that my life is my Masterpiece. That we all are artists in residence. And that the most beautiful pigment is made out of interpersonal relationships. Remember, every little gesture counts and builds the world we live in. The Future is Now.
In our next post, we will continue delving into Leadership from the Heart and how to do so while considering the demands of a society in ecological, social, political, ethical and economic crises.
The next question is: Am I an exceptional creative leader?