In my most previous post, I introduced you to the concept of Heartbeat Leadership for developing a strong team and organization. Today, I’d like to go a little deeper and introduce you to the Six Pulses of LeadershipTM

Just as the heart pulses our nutrient-rich blood to each organ in the body, you—the leader— push out encouragement, direction, correction, energy, growth, and influence to your team. 

How you handle each pulse can empower or weaken your leadership, engage or disengage teams, or positively or negatively impact your organization. 

Here is an overview of each of the Six Pulses of LeadershipTM:

Priorities: The Purpose of Leadership

There’s a good reason for Priorities to be at the starting line for the Six Pulses of LeadershipTM—if you aren’t clear on your priorities, you’ll bounce from fire to fire, getting sucked into the urgent, but not truly important, tasks. 

Understanding your priorities—personally and professionally—is crucially important. In business and in life, you won’t have to wait long to find a fire that needs to be put out or a problem that needs solving. 

There’s a strong push to chase after small priorities, fire drills, and crises—they provide quick wins, and quick wins can feel good. But it’s a short-term win that will always leave you wanting more. 

Heartbeat leaders know a secret when it comes to priorities. Instead of more, more, more—they focus on fewer, bigger, better.

What if you had fewer things to do, but those things were the right things? What if they were things you actually wanted to do?

When you are clear on your priorities, you can make your problems line up for you. You can stop doing more things and start doing the right things. You can stop being busy and start being productive. 

Preparation: The Energy of Leadership 

Preparation is critical if you want to close the gap between where you are now and where you want or need to be. Only then can you start to move. 

If you’re serious about taking ownership of your career and serving the people you lead, then you need a plan. You can’t just drift through your day and hope things turn out well. 

Preparation separates the professional from the pretender. It shows that you take your job seriously and you want to be your best, so you can do your best. 

The heart doesn’t have to decide if it’s going to beat today, or how long each contraction will last, or if it’s going to pump blood through every artery, vein, and capillary. It just does its job. The path is set; the action is electric, and blood flows everywhere it’s supposed to. 

Heartbeat leaders operate in the same way. Preparation allows them to execute effectively on the work that they’ve already decided to do. 

People: The Power of Leadership 

The third pulse of Heartbeat Leadership is People. People are your competitive advantage. Ensure you have the right people in the right seats, and commit to investing in them to achieve shared results. Nothing works without them. 

Simply put, people are your competitive advantage.

If you want to be a successful leader, you need to create a well-trained team that is ready to work.

Good leaders tell people what they expect, teach them how to do it, show them how it’s done, and then hold them accountable. 

Every time I had to make a tough decision about someone on my team, I always asked the question, did we give that person the right tools to be successful? If the answer was yes, then we’d go through the performance management process. 

But if there was any question that we didn’t do our part to help that individual be successful, then we owed them more. There may be a lot of warm bodies out there that can fill an empty position, but that doesn’t mean they are ready to succeed. That is up to you.  

Processes: The Drivers of Leadership 

Processes are the drivers that simplify leadership. When put into place early, they enable you to measure success and mark consistent wins. 

Processes—when done correctly—are liberating. They take the guesswork out of repeated day-to-day tasks and help you function on autopilot. They help you minimize the energy you spend on trivial matters so you can focus on what is important. 

In short, good processes help reduce the friction of leadership. 

To be successful over time and to keep your workload sustainable, you must have a system or process for getting the right things done.  

Over time, you’ll discover that processes are the drivers of your leadership and the system that keeps you running effectively. If you’re doing it right, it should filter down to everyone below you.

[sub]Performance: The Metrics of Leadership 

Without measurable targets, it’s impossible to know if you are succeeding. Performance metrics give you a system to measure, adjust, and repeat with laser-like focus.

My experience has shown that performance management has always been about numbers only. What did you produce? What sales did you generate? What costs did you incur? 

These metrics are important, but Heartbeat Leaders have to care just as much about how they did it as what they did.  

When you make intentional time to review your team’s performance, you get a sense of how they think, how they approach their work, and how they leverage (or fail to leverage) the people around them to achieve their objectives. 

Routine touchpoints with your team—both direct and indirect reports—through one-on-one conversations can be time-consuming. However, information emerges via periodic, one-on-one dialogue in a way that is impossible in a group or even once a year at an annual performance review. 

Promotion: The Growth of Leadership 

Promotion is the catalyst that helps your leadership grow. It is a delicate balance of humility and pride that shares your individual and your team’s success with the organization. 

So how do you promote yourself in a way that doesn’t seem self-serving? How do you map out a path for your future and your career that is authentic to you and gives you a sense of agency and ownership? 

It starts with realizing you have options. 

A lot of people feel stuck, but there are always options. The question is do you want to exercise them? And are you willing to do the hard work to make them pay off? 

You’ve got to recognize that you have a voice and use it. If you want to take your leadership to the next level, you’ve got to be willing to advocate for yourself. 

If you don’t take ownership of your career, you’ll end up unfulfilled. You won’t be utilizing your strengths—in fact, you may be working out of an area of weakness, which is always a recipe for disaster. 

When you are a Heartbeat Leader with a finger on each of the Six Pulses of Leadership™, the results will be nothing short of amazing. I’ve climbed the ladder through sixteen different roles and seen firsthand that it’s true. 

That’s why I know you can do it, too. 

The heart pulses our nutrient-rich blood throughout the body as you—the leader—push out energy and influence to your team. Check out the Six Pulses of Leadership™ a successful leader measures regularly

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