Leading With a Heart-Forward Approach

Kristin Golliher, WildRock® Trailblazers owner and Harmony resident

February marks the season of love, a holiday that is anything but synonymous with hard-charging leadership, however, the WildRock® Trailblazers program has a vision to change that. Designed to give female entrepreneurs and executives the support they need through coaching, workshops and retreats, Trailblazers emphasizes a heart-forward approach.

As leaders, women can uniquely lean into our innate gifts to ultimately change our career satisfaction and even our bottom line. Approaching those we lead with empathy, compassion and emotional intelligence instead of solely relying on traditional hierarchical norms, means we acknowledge that - just like us - our employees are complex individuals with emotions, dreams and challenges. The faster we acknowledge the human side of business, the faster we can reach our goals.  

According to a recent Gallup poll, women have reported higher levels of burnout than men – a gap that has more than doubled since 2019 - costing over $300 billion in lost productivity each year. A Fast Company article also points out that we were taught to, “keep the heart and emotions out of leadership,” but “organizations that will endure and even thrive will be those that reject flat-earth attitudes about heart and leadership.”

At our Trailblazers gathering in December, we discussed the demands of the world as women and how we can still lead with our hearts. Together we addressed the stressors of the seasonal “snowball” and offered tips on how to handle them. As a parting gift, symbolic elephant ornaments were given. In the wild, female elephants are known as fierce protectors. At Trailblazers, we believe this is who we are meant to be for each other. Sometimes we’re caught in the middle and sometimes we’re kicking up dust to protect our circle with fierce, fierce love.

Being a heart-forward leader doesn’t mean we are soft or undermine productivity. It makes us smarter as we drastically increase trust in our organizations, improve morale and retain amazing employees. This past year in my PR and marketing agency we had two account directors announce their pregnancies, literally at the same time! It was at that moment I leaned in, full heart, to recognize the amazing gift of motherhood, but also recognize the strain a full-time career can place on working moms. Having been there with two kids of my own, we thoughtfully navigated a purposeful slow down to conserve our culture, while still providing amazing service to our loyal clients. Truthfully, it was the hardest summer of my life, but what I gained was such a blessing – a new perspective on our workflow and a greater appreciation for my team. When both women returned after their maternity leaves, it was a testament to our ability to circle around these new moms (perhaps like wild elephants) and provide the utmost care as we navigated this season with our hearts at the forefront.

As we practice a heart-forward approach in our daily leadership responsibilities, it’s tough to go at it alone. Surrounding yourself with coaches, mentors and other women who “get it” can be empowering. Through Trailblazers, we pull together like-minded achievers ready to rise to the top, together!

After all, it’s rarely an appeal to our mind that inspires greatness, it’s an appeal to our hearts. Learn more: wildrocktrailblazers.com.