“You've gotta have heart - all you really need is heart….."
While recently humming this tune (thankfully for my family – humming only to myself), these lyrics made me wonder why it’s difficult for CEOs and C-suite executives to regularly talk from the heart, when it is so very clear this is exactly the language people want to hear.
People want to know what you stand for…what you believe in. Clients and customers want to know your passion, your purpose. They want you to believe in their organization, of course, but they need to know that you believe in yourselves, too. It matters.
Also, ask yourself this: Why should your employees give you their blood, sweat and, yes, sometimes their tears, unless they know you’ve got skin in the game as well? They want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Let them – by letting them in.
The day for a CEO to be anything other than completely transparent is gone. Facts, figures, board minutes EVERYTHING has to be out on the table for all to see – why not bear your heart, too?
Of course there is risk involved – just as there is anytime anyone wears their heart on their sleeve. However, I believe the risk of not showing your heart is greater. If your employees can’t immediately recite the top three values of the organization when asked, you have a problem. If you can’t show your heart, it will be very difficult for the organization to define and show its heart to the outside world.
One of the advertisements that received a great deal of attention following the 2013 Super Bowl was from Chrysler, which, interestingly, didn’t talk about cars or trucks at all. Instead, the ad, narrated by late legendary radio newsman Paul Harvey, talked about a time in history when it felt good to praise and to recognize, to talk candidly from the heart.
See the full ad here.
so we keep things bland and nonspecific.”
- Peggy Noonan
She is right and that bland nonspecificity is a huge missed opportunity. You have to say something. Be something. Do something. You have to share. Let your employees know if you are worried about a particular quarter or yearly projections – and tell them why. Conversely, when good things happen, let them know how it makes you feel and how pleased you are to be doing the work you are doing – with them.
I write speeches for CEOs and large organizations and I have a client I’ve worked with for many years. I love brainstorming with him on topics and helping him put together the finished product. But, for a recent all-employee gathering, he told me he knew what he wanted to say and was going to do this one alone.
His presentation was quite personal and in it talked a great deal about his goals, hopes and dreams for the organization. In a word, it was fabulous. Afterward, many of his colleagues, who know I have been working with him and the organization for a long time, came up to me with congratulatory comments such as “…this was his best speech ever” and “wow, he was so loose and comfortable up there, it was fantastic.”
When I shared this feedback with my client we both laughed because 1) of course, I couldn’t take credit for his great work and 2) his great work was a direct result of him simply speaking from the heart. He was at ease and comfortable because the stuff that came from the heart is what really mattered and his peers and colleagues savored it.
While I love the tune, I have to say I disagree with the way the lyrics to the Damn Yankees song continue – to be successful, you don’t necessarily need “miles and miles and miles of heart.” In this case, even a little bit will go a long way. Just put yourself out there; you’ll be glad you did.
Take good care.