Skip to main content
October 6-8, 2024 • San Diego, CA

Leading from the Heart

If people are the most important resources in a company, why aren’t companies prioritizing how they treat their people?

The cultures at traditional workplaces are still rooted in fear–the managers act like hovering dictators and the employees don’t feel safe or motivated to do their best work. 

But that doesn’t make business (or human) sense. If human capital is a company’s greatest asset, shouldn’t we create a culture that helps our people bring their best selves and do their best work?

This is the core idea behind Claude Silver’s philosophy: Heart Centered Leadership. Claude is the first-ever Chief Heart Officer at VaynerMedia where her job is to infuse empathy throughout the whole organization and impact every employee. 

She joined when they had 400 employees and helped them scale their culture to now 2000 people. Heart Centered Leadership is all about bringing heart and humanity into the workplace and creating brave spaces for people to thrive.

Here are three biggest takeaways on how you can bring Heart Centered Leadership into your organizations. 

#1 – Create a Psychologically Safe Space For Feedback

Feedback is a gift. 

When we withhold giving feedback to someone, we hold back the opportunity for them to develop. People need feedback to help them grow. 

To create a strong feedback culture, you need to be able to give it, encourage it, and solicit it. All this can’t be possible unless people feel psychologically safe. 

Claude recommends five rules to make feedback more impactful amongst your team.

  1. Be kind: Everyone makes mistakes. It is what makes us human. When you give feedback, empathize with how the other person might feel and lead the conversation with kindness.
  2. Be clear and specific: Don’t say “Your slide deck was bad.” That person doesn’t know what was wrong with the slide deck. Instead, get ultra-specific about the issue.
  3. Be sincere: You want the other person to feel like you’re on their side and you’re deeply invested in their growth. You want them to feel like you’re riding shotgun in their car on their adventure.
  4. Be current: Give feedback within the day or the week. Don’t save it for three months later or in their annual review. You want to create a frequent feedback loop where it doesn’t even feel like feedback. It’s just another conversation. 
  1. Make it actionable: End with a tactical way to approach the next steps on resolving the issue. 

Here’s an example of putting these rules together. 

​​“Hey Bob, that deck that you just showed all those clients had a lot of spelling mistakes in it. I know mistakes can happen from time to time (I misspell things often too). Let’s sit down and walk through the deck together so I can show you what I see. 

Afterward, we can chat about potential solutions that’ll prevent this for the future. I use a tool called Grammarly that I can share with you. Or we can proofread the next slide deck together before it goes out to a client.”

Bob will be much more receptive to a message like this than if Claude had said, “Your slide deck sucked. Do better next time or else I’ll take you off this assignment.”

#2 – Build Your Emotional Optimism

85% of the thoughts in our head are negative. And these same thoughts come up repeatedly as we go about our days.

  • “I’m not good enough.”
  • “I’m not smart enough.” 
  • “I’m not fit enough.”

When we have these thoughts, we start to look for evidence to confirm that we’re not actually good enough. When we believe your teammates aren’t smart enough to do their work well, we lose trust in them. 

We treat them differently, and they notice. 

But what would life feel like if we had more than 15% of positive thoughts in our heads? How would our team feel if we believed in their potential to do amazing work? The world would be absolutely different. 

Claude prides on having an immense amount of emotional optimism. This is the ability to take obstructive thoughts and reframe them so you can see the silver lining. 

To zoom out from your negative thoughts and see the bigger picture. Then transform those thoughts into a more positive and optimistic view. 

“The way you see people is the way you treat them and the way you treat them is what they become.”

Despite your team’s imperfections, choose to see the unlimited potential in your people. On a more philosophical level, human kindness is always the way. We are wired to belong. We are better when we work together and commit to finding truth together.

When we talk together in new and different ways, we get better results, and everything moves forward. 

Lastly, it’s one thing to just be optimistic. But optimism with action creates results. And all things grow when immersed in love.

#3 – Give Attention and Be Generous

Attention is the purest form of generosity.

Attention unlocks serotonin that gives you this feeling of calm and happiness. It’s an amazing feeling when managers walk through their direct report’s slide deck, give great feedback, and offer ways to help unblock their biggest challenges. 

The direct report feels seen, understood, and recognized for their efforts. They feel like you care. 

Generosity is when you freely give your time, energy, or resources to someone. 

Generosity unlocks oxytocin that promotes feelings of love, bonding, and well-being. It’s called the love hormone or the hugging drug because it’s that powerful. Author Simon Sinek has a great quote, 

“When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.”

When you give someone attention and generosity, they see that you’re emotionally invested in them, and this makes it more likely that they’ll be motivated to be invested in whatever you’re doing. 

To Sum it Up

If people are the most important resources in a company, companies must prioritize treating their employees well. Heart Centered Leadership is an amazing philosophy to accomplish this goal. 

It’s all about leading with the heart. To connect as humans and be incredibly empathetic to the people that we’re serving. Heart Centered Leadership works best when there’s a culture of physiologically safety, emotional optimism, and generosity. 

best practices, company culture