Have a Heart


Thomas Friedman wrote an Op-Ed column in the NY Times on January 4 titled: “From Hands to Heads to Hearts”. This article strikes at a compelling notion: what makes us humans unique as the fast-changing world of artificial intelligence challenges human thinking and its impact on society. Does it replace us humans?

As a former business executive and now professional leadership coach focusing on college athletics, daily I think and talk about how does leadership and it’s leaders enhance success towards real goals. In the world of college athletics, performance on the field is paramount, yet we know that to get there, there is a commitment to becoming self-aware of one’s feelings about things that influence daily life. This is an expression of one’s values and beliefs. Results on the field or those “outward” things often detours us from what is a critical starting point – the whole person or persons.

Having said this, artificial intelligence and technological advancement influence our lives in many positive ways. It can give us tools to make us more productive, intelligence gathering is superb, and it can create metrics that help us understand performance.  Just think, optimal athlete performance can be measured bio-metrically and help us realize how to achieve next levels of success. 

Yet, I suggest we consider what I call the “five have-a-heart foundations” so that performance has a real backbone:

Be authentic – be yourself; let others see this; it’s the real you and it means you’ve taken the time to be the real you and what you value.

Be curious – leadership is energy and that means seeing opportunities abound. Opening yourself up to ideas, people, and things is refreshing, energizing and hopeful.

Listen, don’t be listened to – be informed first, then be the informant. Let team members know you get it. It imbues trust and willingness to create a culture that matters.

     Know your Why – You may not what it is you do and understand your goals, but it will have real meaning when you can express why you’re doing it first.

And lastly….

Have a Heart –

It’s what makes you. You. Technology can’t feel or hope as Thomas Friedman wrote. As athletic leaders, having a heart is what adds meaning to leadership development.