Don’t Leave Your Heart at Home


Some of the leaders I know admit that they are a different person at home than they are at work. When I ask them to describe themselves in each place, I find that they describe a more genuine, heart-centered person at home. At work, they say they tend to be more reserved and cerebral.

Do you see yourself in this? I think this divided behavior is a shame. It must be a real stressor to put on a “work face” and a “home face”. Remember, stress is not a good thing – it wears on you both mentally and physically. Wouldn’t it be a great thing to be a integrated person who behaves the same wherever you are? What if you brought your heart to work?

Yes, work takes our brain. But too many of you are forgetting that it also takes your heart. You get caught up in the daily rush to get things done, and neglect the fact that you and your organization are made up of real live people who need you to show your humanity. That takes leading with your heart too. When you bring your heart to work, you’ll see your effectiveness increase because you:

are intentional about reaching out to others at work in a profound way to create strong, healthy, mutually beneficial relationships. The old saying that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” applies here. A genuine interest in others’ work as well as a personal attention to what they care about will make work more enjoyable and productive for everyone. Yes, I know it’s hard and I know that there is a fine line that you don’t cross – you don’t have to be everyone’s best friend. But you do need to make the effort to reach out and show that you care about them as human beings if you want to be a successful leader.

show that there is more to you than your brain and that you are a human being like they are who has a heart too. I remember a boss I had who went out of his way to help his administrative assistant when her teenage son had died unexpectedly. He didn’t tell anyone what he had done for her and her family. Her telling of the story of his involvement made me respect him and know that he was more than my boss. I began to see him as a real, live human being who did more than lead our team with his rational left brain. I, and my teammates, softened considerably toward him, and the workplace became more pleasant as he relaxed into using his heart more too.

create important bonds that engender trust in you. When others see you as a real, live human being with a head AND a heart, there is a bond there that encourages others to trust you. You seem more like them – more human. By reaching out to them, showing some vulnerability, caring for the welfare of others, and apologizing for your mistakes, you become trustworthy. Think about it; isn’t that how you behave outside of the workplace? Isn’t that what you expect others to do for you?

Your heart – don’t leave home without it.



I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.

5 comments on “Don’t Leave Your Heart at Home

  1. I have known in my life some persons saying “at work I’m different, you know it’s business” and then “let’s have a beer together now it’s private time”. Of course nobody went for the beer and it doesn’t exist two personalities or different behaviors. If you do not have respect for the others, it doesn’t matter where you are, you are just selfish and you do not care about the others, that’s it.

  2. Agree 100% I know some people think that being kind at work or showing their human side is unprofessional, but more people would actually see you in a better light if you do. Best thing to do is to be yourself and realize that you don’t have to seem tough as nails all the time.

  3. Hi Susan, I also think that when a leader is themself, (whatever that means) others appreciate it. Even if it means they are naturally “tough as nails”.

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