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The Power of Heart-Centered Leadership

by Maurice Evlyn-Bufton & Deb Crowe

Leaders across the globe have been significantly challenged by the events affecting our daily lives since March 2020. All this time, I have had a virtual front seat to get to know and observe how leaders have utilized both sides of “VUCA.”

As you may already know, VUCA is an acronym first used in 1987. The U.S. Army War College introduced it to describe today’s Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity, which is the multi-lateral world we had entered at the end of the Cold War. By early 2017, Bill George – prominent executive and Board member – wrote in Forbes that our uncertainties had increased so much that we had entered VUCA 2.0. And that was long before the disruptions of COVID.

Bob Johansen of the Institute of the Future has suggested that leaders transform the VUCA acronym into Vision, Understanding, Clarity, and Agility instead of its current meaning. Leaders from all levels who have successfully shifted their focus achieved that outcome by reviewing, repositioning, and reassessing their organizations.

In following this trend among leaders as part of my coaching practice, I have observed six specific current global leadership challenges:

  1. Being practical & encouraging effectiveness in others
  2. Inspiring all employees
  3. Developing employees
  4. Leading a team with heart-centered qualities
  5. Guiding change
  6. Managing stakeholders

The critical element to all six of these challenges is people. When leaders can view their leadership intrinsically and see people first, it is a win-win for everyone.

Within the space of your calendar and the considerable number of decisions you need to make in a typical day, various sources estimate that an adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day. This number may sound ludicrous, but in fact, we make 227 decisions each day on food alone, according to researchers at Cornell University. As your level of responsibility increases, so does the vast number of choices leaders face and, in instances, with milliseconds to respond, delegate, or decide.

The Venn diagram below shows a clear depiction of a VUCA 2.0 model. It allows the business acumen components of knowledge, skill, and abilities combined with EQ, not IQ – fueled by your journey toward being a great, ongoing leader. When these components are combined, they form a natural and habitual way of being and thinking for someone in your leadership position, with heart-centered qualities as part of the core of your daily behavior.

What does the future look like now?

As the world came to a halt with the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us experimented with a new employment model. Work-from-home and remote working policies went into effect.

However, the nature of some firms’ work does not allow for a 100% remote work policy. The solution was to strike a balance between the two approaches — a compromise that has given rise to a hybrid workplace paradigm.

Many employees can now do their jobs while conducting some of their work outside the office with this arrangement. (The out-of-office component is completed from home.) As a result of social distancing policies, office spaces were redesigned based on the number of physical people at a given workplace based on their particular “socially distanced” capacity. Work schedules have been rearranged and made more flexible to accommodate both remote and in-office personnel.

According to a recent Salesforce survey, at least 64% of employees are open to working from home occasionally. Another 37% wish to continue working from home full-time after the outbreak. This approach may sound quite intriguing in principle but putting it into practice can be a challenge.

Let us look at some of the benefits and drawbacks of a hybrid workplace:

Advantages of a Hybrid Workplace

Emphasis on productivity rather than efficiency

Operational cost savings

Collaboration redefined

Prioritization by employees

Disadvantages of a Hybrid Workplace


Client experience has deteriorated


Isolation of employees has increased


Increased cyber-threats


Overly politicized workplace

Consider Your Achievements

As a leader, what are you prouder and more satisfied to have organized and put into place? But also — what, with 20/20 hindsight, might have been “imperfect” about what you have done?

Embracing your imperfection is key to heart-centered leadership being borderless. Offer an open invitation to allow others to sit in the observer’s chair. Share your ‘ day in a life of ‘ with your leadership with transparency, vulnerability, and authenticity elements.

We are now a borderless global society, and we are all in the people business. The sector is no longer spoken of or separating us.

Also, please consider the various kinds of value you offer to the people and organization(s) you lead. Conduct a daily self-audit of the three best qualities you possess and note the ones you are consistently working to improve. Attentive listening seems to be at the top of the list for many executives.

End of Life

Think about your legacy. Yes, we will all get there, but none of us knows when our ‘end’ is.

I made a promise 11 years ago to five amazing people. 3 Vice Presidents and two CEOs. They are in my mind and heart daily. As I held their hands at the end of their lives in hospice, they spoke to me and questioned why they chose to pay the price to climb the proverbial ladder of success. Lost health, lost marriages, failed relationships with children and grandchildren, and for what?

𝐈 𝐬𝐞𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐮𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐬 𝐈 𝐮𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐢𝐭.

We have 𝐎𝐍𝐄 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞.
We have 𝐎𝐍𝐄 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐁𝐄.

Whatever leadership level you now are at, consider these questions as a self-audit?

  1. What do I want? 
  2. What is my end game?
  3. Can I lead and inspire others?
  4. Do I consider that your leadership qualities are evident to everyone?
  5. Have I spent years developing your ability to lead a wide variety of people in any circumstance?
  6. Is my charisma natural that people find irresistible? 
  7. Do I make it easy for people to trust and believe in your words and vision? 
  8. Are people attracted to me, and what do I have to say?
  9. Are you a person that people follow willingly?
  10. Is it my ability to inspire others that sets me apart?

When leaders know how to motivate people and present a probable future that others find attractive, it breeds trust and rapport. When leaders inspire others, they can give their best each day. When leaders inspire others to do their best, they demonstrate the depth of their leadership skills.

Perfect your ability to be imperfect to lead and inspire. Leaders may feel that they know so much; however, there is always more they can learn. Leaders avoid becoming lazy and complacent and are continuously improving their skills.

Leadership skills are at a premium in today’s world. Do you know and feel that your skills are valued across the globe? As your leadership ability to lead grows, the number of opportunities available to grow as well.

Today, I challenge you to take full advantage of any opportunities to lead and inspire others. Intrinsically do your best to be a great leader and strengthen your leadership skills even further.

Self-Reflection Questions:
  1. What opportunities do I have to be a leader in my life?
  2. What can I do to enhance my leadership abilities?
  3. What are my greatest strengths as a leader?

Here is to being heart-centered. Suppose you are there, kudos to you. If you want to be, let us start. Join me in being an imperfect Chief Equanimity Officer. Equanimity will separate you from everyone else in leadership.

Deborah Crowe

Deborah Crowe

Founder and CEO, Leadership Disruptor

As founder and CEO, Deborah started her own company in 1990. She knows what it takes for a leader to get to the top, hold a senior position, and integrate career and family. Deborah provides the tools, strategies, programs, and support to help create meaningful change in her clients’ lives in her coaching practice. 

Deborah prides herself on being a heart-centered leader who thrives on helping others become successful and fulfilled. Deborah’s passion is to help people and organizations create an experience they envision and coach them to achieve their dreams, goals, and aspirations. 

Deborah Crowe is a community builder, hospice volunteer, hiker, traveler, yoga teacher, wife, mom, sister, and friend in her spare time. She has a deep passion for self-care and ensures that that mindset is actively ensconced in her client’s and loved ones’ lives, first. 

Let Deborah help you create and lead your life by design.
imperfect: The Heart-Centered Leadership Podcast