In this easy to read and entertaining book, Mr. Spaulding takes us on an interesting journey of only 18 inches: from our head to our heart! It is a very clever way to encourage us to think about leadership from both a “heart” and ultimately “love” point of view. Spaulding wants us to develop a “leadership philosophy” which changes us into “heart-led” leaders because it will “change your life, your organization, and the lives of everyone you touch.” For the author, “leading from the heart means leading with love.” He refers to heart-led leaders as “Who Leaders” because they are men and women who have taken the time to define their leadership philosophy: “Who are you? Who do you want to become? What do you want to be known for both as a person and as a leader?”
Knowing his audience of business and professional leaders well, he advises that if the word love “scares” you, consider alternatives such as “passion, commitment, compassion, servant leadership, purpose-driven, mission-driven or your choice of any similar word or phrase.”
The book features numerous warm and inspiring stories of people who have somehow learned to live out this “philosophy” and thereby clearly touching the lives of people around them. The substance of the book is conveyed in the 18 inch journey: each inch is paired with a moving story and virtue which exemplifies heart-led leadership (love, humility, caring…trust).
One of the most important lessons and conclusions of this book is its insistence that love is not just an emotion, it is action. While heart-led leadership starts with knowing one’s philosophy of leadership, it is ultimately measured in the quality of relationships and “approaching life with a passion for loving others and serving others, in order to win for tomorrow.”
As a Christ-follower, I applaud Spaulding’s effort in this book to challenge business and professional people to reach for the highest possible motivation and life virtue, which must be love. His simple roadmap is to start with a leadership philosophy and then put it into practice. However, the main question I have after reading the book is: How does a person learn to love selflessly in a world and global marketplace which neither teaches, rewards nor encourages such love? Even if I found such love, how would I stay on track and live out this “leader philosophy” based on heart-led love? My suspicion is that Spaulding knows, appreciates and even practices the “servant” leadership taught by Jesus Christ.
Jesus taught the following: “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)
Based on my own 31-year career working at fortune 500 companies and private companies, I know that Jesus’ “servant” leadership, like heart-led leadership is nearly impossible to sustain in one’s own willpower guided only by a life philosophy. Even the most virtuous among us struggles daily with the assertion of self-interest (career, performance, survival) over other’s interest. However, Jesus never suggests that we can become true servant leaders (heart-led) on our own. Instead he came to give us a new life and identity in himself by offering a full life change through redemption (ransom). It is in this new life that we become capable of truly loving God and others as self. This is the necessary groundwork I think for real and sustained heart-led leadership.