Edward Sullivan has been coaching and advising start-up founders, Fortune 10 executives, and heads of state for over 15 years. His clients include executives from Google, Salesforce, Slack, and dozens of other fast-growth companies. He holds an MBA from Wharton and an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School. Edward is CEO & President of the renowned executive coaching consultancy Velocity.
The Journey Behind Leading with Heart
What makes the difference between great leaders and mediocre leaders? In their research Edward Sullivan and coauthor John Baird found that the nuts and bolts behind effective leaders are authentic connections. Edward Sullivan says, “We found that leaders who are very successful lead with heart, and leading with heart isn’t simply being a good guy or it’s not simply caring with a capital C. We found that there are actual specific conversations that people have to create the connective tissue in the workplace that lead to better results.” [9:45]
The way Leading with Heart was written, is to be used as a tool. These conversations and questions are organic, it’s more about the conversations than one-liner questions. The book includes conversation starters to create ongoing conversations and dig into the richness behind them. “At the end of the day, leading with heart is about engagement. It’s about conversation. It’s not about interrogation.” Edward explains the way the book can be used by teams. [15:23]
Heart Centered Questions
What do you need to be at your best?
People like their work when they are treated like individuals and feel seen and as a member of the team. Leaders who promote this check in with their team, assessing and providing what each member might need to do their best work. “You can tell when people like their work… and it’s not because of those superficial benefits.” [19:53]Edward shares the powerful question leaders can ask to support their team.
What fears are holding you back?
A fear-run organization is going to cause more turnover, less transparency, more politics, and all of the other negativity that is commonly seen in the workplace. Edwards provides a powerful analogy from the book, “If your team is afraid to tell you when they smell smoke, you’re always going to be putting out fires.”[22:08]
What desires drive you, and which might derail you?
This is the “gas pedal” conversation… It’s the leader’s responsibility to ask the questions and start the conversations to figure out what is going to motivate their team and get them going but also be conscious of what might get them off track. Leaders naturally desire acceptance and belonging but can also face the struggle of connection versus having difficult conversations. Edward reiterates by saying, “We can’t let maintaining the relationship get in the way of maintaining effective performance of the team.” [31:32]
What are your greatest gifts?
This is the question that gets leaders and team members lighting up. Our gift is something that often goes unappreciated, something that comes so naturally but we don’t value it the way other people might. “As soon as you gain awareness of your gift you start seeing applications for it in many other places in your life, and many other places in the business” [35:24] Edward explains how great leaders can see gifts and use them to add value to not only the business but by allowing their team member to see the gift for themselves as well.
What is your purpose?
In Leading with Heart, all the previous four questions lead to the why. Get all the other information and feelings out there so that you can determine a real why and a real purpose. To Edward, purpose means how do you wanna leave the world? Who do you want to serve? What impact do you want to have? Edward defines this as, “Ultimately purpose comes down to figuring out how to use your gifts to their highest and best use. In service of something bigger than yourself.” [44:26]
Mentioned in this episode:
- Leading with Heart
- Edward Sullivan – CEO and Managing Partner – Velocity Coaching | LinkedIn
- Velocity Coaching
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