Can you use Head, Heart and Tummy, leveraging all the keys on your piano to differentiate you as a superior leader?
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I have been using this concept in my coaching for over a decade as an important aspect of assisting my clients to approach their “life’s work” more “holistically”. Particularly in the context of career management and influential communication, in both of which the “head” or intellectual considerations seem to prevail. We’ve learned together that when we engage Head, Heart and Tummy, we seem to get much better and more sustainable results and outcomes.
The Head Part in Using Head, Heart and Tummy
Today most organizations recruiting, are looking for the best talent, with at least one degree, as if to prove their desired “brightness”. It’s all about technical competence and IQ. Thankfully, they are now also looking more for EQ (emotional intelligence) plus “cultural and behaviour fit” aspects.
In most corporate roles KPI’s rule, demanding emphasis on the intellectual and innovative capacity of the individual to be able to get ahead of the ever growing competition. We can see why there is so much dependency on “the head”, and keeping it above water. Of course that also necessitates a strong ability to manage their time and energy in order to stay on top of all these pressures to stay ahead.
I also get the impression many confuse intellectual competence with confidence.
Head seems also to prevail in our communication as we try to “win” arguments around our knowledge and facts. In doing so, we forget to look at a key in any successful conversation or negotiation, namely asking questions instead of telling, so that the other person can share with us their WIIFM? Active listening builds rapport, helping us to “win them over”. That has everything to do with them responding (albeit unconsciously) to our greater heart emphasis in the conversation.
The Heart Part in Using Head, Heart and Tummy
A very large proportion of my work goes around the transition into leadership and to help existing leaders to develop their leadership style and skills to make them more relatable. Most careers come up a “professional silo” (eg accountant or engineer etc), the success of which usually gets them promoted into a management or leadership position. Often long before they are actually ready to do that successfully, right?
What does that mean? Well, in the professional silo we used to be depended on to drive the required outcomes ourselves, based on our expertise. Leadership is about orchestrating these results through others so as to drive growth and scale for everyone to benefit from. Doing so without all the human behaviour expertise associated with understanding, inspiring, motivating and growing the individuals in terms of their WIIFM misses too many opportunities to influence outcomes. This is where the “heart” comes in. We need empathy and understanding when we work with people. We need to deal with their problems and obstacles and personal issues. We have to wade through all sorts of objections and political agendas as we drive them to our required outcomes. This is simply not “just a process” based on conventions and rules and intellect. This really does need the ability to play all the (behavioural) keys on a piano.
Head, Heart and Tummy and Life Planning
Also in a career management sense. No career can be sustainably successful if it all plays out in the “head”. That is based only on the intellectual thinking and planning.
Great career planning needs to include great life planning. It needs some heart in it. Some emotion. Some worthwhile purpose. Regrettably only very few people ever spend more time than planning a holiday, on planning their life and career. This is not only about what to do best and how. It’s more about the why. What’s your purpose? What will make you look back on your life in satisfaction rather than regret, when you hang up your boots?
I shudder to think that I could have continued for another 15 years doing what I thought was successful in my corporate career. Why? Because I managed to “let that go” and for almost 15 years am now doing what I was born to do. The key driver for that re-inventing myself came “from the heart”. It had very little to do with the “technical”, and everything to do with the “wanting to make a difference”. To other people. And in doing so, to me.
And so in my career management coaching, this concept of “why” always prevails. That doesn’t mean the clients race out and leave their organisation. That means they can excercise choices to be sure they include “more heart”. That might mean better time and energy management. Better ratios of time allocated across all roles and facets of their lives. Better balance between what has to be done and what they want to do. And consequently love to do.
The Tummy Part in Using Head, Heart and Tummy
And then there’s the tummy. I’m not referring to it in the age sense of managing its frequently going “pear shaped”. I mean here the use of our intuition. I know that many of my best decisions were taken because I listened to my tummy. And some pretty regrettable decisions came about when I ignored what my tummy was trying to tell me. I’m sure you can relate, yes?
This is about listening with all your senses to what you and others are saying, not saying and also how it’s being said. This is about self awareness. About picking up vibes. About allowing the prevalence of other, sometimes “spiritual” (not religious) realms, like I describe in The Blue Honda.
Using Head, Heart and Tummy. So What?
And so if we reflect, most great outcomes, every project, every building, every breakthrough starts in the head as an idea. An intellectual concept. Fuelled by research, all the intellectual aspects are usually explored, captured and presented to justify or support the approval or implementation. Innovation at work.
However, its motivation, justification and approval already need the inclusion of the heart, as it has to be positioned to appeal tothe stakeholders it will require to come to fruition.
Remember the story of how Charles Darwin tried to outline the value of his work to the ships captain en route back home? It went straight over the man’s head, teaching Darwin the most valuable lesson of all. “If I can’t make this understandable and relatable and appealing to those that matter, all this work won’t matter“. And, making it work usually needs other people. People that won’t do things for your reasons. They’ll do them for their reasons. For what’s in their head and in their heart.
And finally, when we’ve worked through the head and heart phases, and think we have all the right ticks in the right boxes, it is critical that we ask and listen to what does our tummy say? Understandably, after all the work that has been invested, the “wrong” answer from the tummy is very hard to digest, let alone accept, isn’t it? What? Have to start again? No way!
Wasn’t that perhaps a key fatal error the terminated the Burke and Wills expidition?