Heart-Centered Leadership, With Susan Steinbrecher – PS025

Heart-Centered Leadership Episode Overview

Susan Steinbrecker, Author of Heart Centered LeadershipHeart-centered leadership has come mainstream – it’s not just a trend but a necessity for organizations to flourish in our fast-paced complex world.  Two authors Susan Steinbrecher and Robyn Stratton-Berkessel talk about what happens when we embrace heart-centered leadership.  People respond better in all kinds of ways and organizations benefit through improved performance, increased engagement and accelerated leadership development.

Susan Steinbrecher is an executive coach, licensed mediator, professional speaker, leadership advisor, and business consultant. She is the CEO of Steinbrecher and Associates in Hurst, Texas. Susan is co-author, with Dr. Joel Bennett, of the book Heart-Centered Leadership: Lead Well, Live Well. She has authored two other books, one of which is the Amazon bestseller, KENSHO: A Modern Awakening.


Susan Steinbrecher lives heart-centered leadership in her own business and in the work she does for others as a coach, speaker, author and business advisor.  Early in her career in the hospitality industry, Susan achieved the status of general manager.  That accelerated professional growth has shaped her work today.

Heart-Centered Leadership

In our conversation, we chat about the qualities and values of heart-centered leadership being relevant in all contexts where we are called upon to be leaders – at home, in community, in sport and so on.

In the business world, the term “leader” implies the ability to demonstrate the expected textbooks skills of planning, organizing, directing, controlling, influencing, persuading, advocating a mission.  And when you add in the heart-centered qualities, you include wisdom, courage, compassion, the desire and ability to lead others with true transparency, authenticity, humility, and service.

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Emotionally Connected

A heart-centered leader is fueled with the excitement and passion to serve others. The impact on employees results in a workforce that is aligned, tuned in, highly engaged, and emotionally connected to their leader and the business. You see it repeatedly in organizations, when leaders walk around the building and know employees’ names, engaging, asking questions, inquiring about families (and knew the families), employees are committed to this leader.

Susan’s earliest experiences in the hospitality industry reinforced “The Golden Rule”: treating others as you would like to be treated. She learned quickly that you have to treat people really well for them to perform at their best.  Years later, founding Steinbrecher and Associates, this ethos is her cornerstone.  Steinbrecher’s mission is to help people be the best they possibly can be professionally and personally.

Vulnerability and Empowerment

Leaders, when they dare to show vulnerability, reveal their ‘realness” and that quality of being real and authentic is truly valued today.  Furthermore, as a leader when you give your power to others, when you empower others, you gain power. That act of empowerment is an act of trust. Leaders who can show they are real and trusting are the leaders people want to follow.

Susan shares how she invites clients and participant groups to respond to a most appreciative inquiry:

“Think back to time in your own career when you had the best boss you’ve ever had. Ask yourself, ‘What was it about this person? What did the person say or do, and as a result, what impact did this leader have on you?’”

Typical answers to the “best boss”:

“Inspired me; believed in me; empowered me; cared about me; listened to me; treated me like a whole human being; genuinely was interested in my success … And as a result, I would do anything for this leader; hope to emulate the leader’s style myself; and would be there if the leader called me in on a day I had off.”

Facilitators of Heart-Centered Leadership

Emotional Intelligence: Listen in to the show to catch some of the factors that facilitate Heart-Centered leadership. High Emotional Intelligence helps and can be learnt.  Although having a high IQ matters, statistics show that a person with a stronger EQ than IQ is likely to be a more effective leader.

Fulfillment and joy: Work alone does not always give people a sense of fulfillment and joy. This can best be seen in the younger generation, the Millennials (those born after 1980), as in our Positivity Strategist intern. These younger workers are looking for a greater sense of purpose. They want to align themselves with organizations that stand for something and matter –  organizations that are doing good for the community and environment; organizations with a truly global impact.

Hungry to make a difference: Increasing numbers of leaders who have been very successful, career-wise and financially, begin to question themselves:

“Is this all there is? I’ve given so much in my life to get to this point in my career. I have success, and I really want something more. I’m hungry to make a difference, to have a bigger impact, and to know that the work I’m doing really matters on a significant level.”

An example cited by Susan is the conscious capitalism movement, as in John Mackey’s work. Those companies who engage in conscious capitalism are going to get the best talent that’s available — conscious capitalism is aligned with Heart-Centered Leadership Principles.

7 Principles of Heart-Centered Leadership

  1. Know Thyself
  2. Know Your Impact
  3. Don’t Judge or Assume — instead, come to understand
  4. Let Go
  5. Associates Have a Choice
  6. They Need What You Need
  7. Care for the Heart

Listen to the podcast episode to hear more about the 7 Principles of Heart-Centered Leadership. Susan Steinbrecher explains each one with some detail.

Perceived Objections

We talk about some of the external factors that can be seen as obstacles to embracing Heart-Centered leadership: two of the most common being not having enough time, or the culture not being sympathetic to make such a shift.

I love Susan’s response is to the not-having-enough-time objection.  She gives these leaders 15 seconds to get over it. Listen in. It will put a big grin on your face!

Susan’s response to it-won’t-work-in-this-culture, is a flavor of  the tried and true, Stephen Covey: focus on your circle of influence and what you can control rather than the things you can’t control. (Anecdotally, when you do that exercise, it becomes incredibly revealing when you realize how much you can actually influence).

It’s an illusion that we don’t have the time or the culture won't tolerate it.  Susan elegantly reminds us that our perception is our reality, offering us a quote from Stephen Covey:

“We see the world not as it is, but as we are.”

It’s a great reminder, of Susan’s first two principles – know yourself and know your impact.  In fact, it terrific to realize we can actually influence and control all 7 principles.  We all have impact in the  world – that’s a fact.  When our impact comes from our heart – it's heart-centered – what a positive impact that is.

How You Can Connect with Susan

Books Mentioned In This Episode

“[amazon template=iframe image&asin=0615891195]
Heart-Centered Leadership: Lead Well, Live Well”

“[amazon template=iframe image&asin=1461094682]
Kensho: A Modern Awakening Instigating Change in an Era of Global Renewal”

“[amazon template=iframe image&asin=1625271751]
Conscious Capitalism, With a New Preface by the Authors: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business”

“[amazon template=iframe image&asin=1476740054]
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change”