Think & Feel Your Way to Wise Leadership Decisions

When you’re thinking clearly and feeling fully, you’ll often make your best decisions. A clear head and full heart leads to well-considered choices that you can stand behind with confidence. When your head informs your heart, and your heart offers its special brand of information to your head, you’re plugged into a lot of valuable input. However, it’s probably easier for you to be in your heart in some situations and other times, to be more in your head. Unfortunately, when stress increases and emotions get supercharged, thinking and feeling also tend to get disconnected.

When thinking and feeling are split apart

When you think, but don’t feel, you may discount the importance of feeling. If what you think isn’t softened by what is in your heart, you could become rigid and disconnected. This will make it hard to understand other people and why they do what they do. It may also be linked to an overall difficulty connecting with others, making it very difficult to know what is truly important to them.

When you feel, but don’t think, you lose credibility very quickly, especially in the workplace. You may be overwhelmed with a whole range of feelings. If you crash in on yourself and implode, it can be difficult to articulate what is happening. If you lash out and explode with a firestorm of reactions, you can do serious harm to your career and to other people. Whether you’re imploding or exploding, you won’t be able to think as clearly, your decisions won’t be as wise, and you’re more likely to be misunderstood.

Whenever feeling and thinking get disconnected and one of these activities gets the upper hand, your communication, decision-making and overall performance will be hampered.

The think-feel alliance

Thinking and feeling are natural partners and belong together, no matter what your personality style may be. When your head and heart are both engaged, you have a think-feel alliance. This gives you the amazing ability to think and feel at the same time, even when circumstances are demanding, which is when you need it the most.

You know that the think-feel alliance is operating when you can feel the impact of your thoughts and you can also think clearly about what you’re feeling. This makes you much wiser and able to feel-through and think-through a decision you’re wrestling with.

It usually takes practice to create a solid think-feel alliance, especially in situations where you’re used to favoring one over the other. Daniel for example, was more intellectual and data driven in his day-to-day work. But when he was faced with intense disagreement from his peers in meetings, he was so overwhelmed with frustration that he lost his ability to think clearly. He couldn’t remember facts and lost all logic. He hid his brain freeze and agitation by sitting silently with arms crossed, like he was pouting.

Daniel had to learn how to think-feel in these situations. He worked courageously to allow space for his feelings and sort them out, so he could give them clear expression. As he did this, he became more influential in shaping work decisions that were important to him. He also became more valuable to his employer.

Even though the think-feel dynamic is different for each person, in most cases some extra effort is needed in order to have a strong think-feel alliance that can support you through the toughest decisions you face.

What is your biggest challenge to bringing your head and heart together in the workplace?


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Barbara Bouchet

Barbara Bouchet is President of Contact Point Associates and author of "The Enlightened Edge for Leaders: Ignite the Power of You." She coaches and trains leaders and teams to expand, transform and take delight in their work and life. Connect with Barbara.


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