Heart-centric leadership believes in the power of engagement to reshape perspectives and lead others in alignment with vision. A key part of this strategy relates to understanding how to have conversations with peers or employees that maybe you do not want to have. Following is a 5-step process composed of words, perspectives, and strategies I have learned, gratefully borrowed from others, and interjected with my own philosophy, that led me to stand at my fullest height as a leader.

1. Be Direct, Be Kind

Be direct, and before you enter into the conversation, or even the room for that matter, predispose yourself to having a heart that is wide-open with compassion and kindness, but not weakness. Then offer direct feedback as a way of creating opportunity for growth and as an incentive for the other person to be more of who they are. Stay on topic, even when they do not want to, and always provide examples, so your feedback is not perceived as opinion.

2. Listen to Learn

Listening provides a safe space in which people can feel respected. The purpose of authentic and direct feedback is to generate win-win outcomes—both individuals must understand the situation together in order to make positive change. Unless people feel heard there is no lasting change. This style of active listening is different then listening to compromise, where people are only partially heard. Purposeful listening by no means suggests that you have to be in agreement, just honestly heard.

3. Don’t Make it Personal

Again, this is where predisposing our intentions silently before we enter into the conversation sets us up to project the correct non-verbal energy and helps us stay aligned with our purpose. So don’t allow your imagination to create issues, and do not take things personally during a direct feedback conversation. However, honestly acknowledging the emotions being felt will offer the recipient a relief valve for any stress they might experience.

4. Show Up, Be Present

Show up, be fully present—and don’t rush off after having a tough conversation. Be brave enough to allow moments of silence to come into the conversation. Follow up afterward so that afterthoughts don’t create imagined distance and hurt feelings.

5. Inspire Greatness

Communicate the belief in the potential for brilliance in the recipient and the aspiration for who they can become. Respectful, direct feedback restores the individual and the team to sanity. It costs absolutely nothing except an emotional investment of honesty, taking the risk of receiving a bad reaction…and temporarily being uncomfortable.

In the absence of authenticity we become less powerful.

And you are powerful, so do not give that power away, stay true to who you are, while assertive in what is required and right.


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