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Heart-Centered Relationships At Work

Two Men Hugging

Many leaders and workplace cultures still believe it is best to keep co-workers at an arm's length distance, and not get too close. This is indeed easier if you don’t like to have difficult conversations or create connections for healthier relationships. The result of this old school leadership style is that you rarely have loyal, committed, passionate employees. If you are keeping them at a distance, they are viewing you as a leader from a distance, showing up to do the minimum without much care or thought about the quality of their work or longevity with the company.

Authentic heart-centered relationships are the key to a thriving work environment. When team members feel connected, trusted and valued, they are more likely to collaborate, innovate, and contribute to the overall success of the organization. 

Heart-Centered Leadership

So how am I defining Authentic heart centered leadership? There is a spectrum and I want to be clear that I am not proposing the far end of that spectrum where authenticity becomes you saying whatever is on your mind despite how inappropriate, mean or disturbing it might be, that is not the intention here. I am defining Authentic leadership as an unwavering commitment to show up in one's truest form—rooted in kindness, honesty, transparency, sincerity, and vulnerability. It involves aligning words, actions, and beliefs with a genuine expression of self. Right now, most leaders are on the other end of the spectrum, withholding and withdrawing while unconsciously pretending to be something they are not, over using their power over others to compensate for how powerless they feel. This incongruence can be subtle but it is noticeable and creates a lack of trust and creates an integrity issue as a leader. This article is intended to challenge wherever you are on the spectrum, so you ask yourself, can I be kinder, more honest, vulnerable and sincere with my interactions at work? The result is that you feel less stress because pretending, and hiding information can put a much greater strain on your nervous system than most think, impacting your sleep, vitality and overall well being.

Authentic Leaders Build Connected Teams

There are a number of reasons why leaders may be hesitant to be vulnerable. They may fear being seen as weak or incompetent. They may worry that their vulnerability will be used against them. Or they may simply be uncomfortable with the idea of sharing their personal lives with their colleagues. 

Authentic leaders are those who are true to themselves and their values. They are not afraid to be vulnerable and to show their human side. This authenticity creates a sense of trust and respect among team members, who feel more comfortable sharing their own ideas and perspectives. 

“Leaders who regularly display vulnerability are 5.3 times more likely to build trust with their employees, and leaders who acknowledge their shortcomings are 7.5 times more likely to maintain trust.” (

In her book, "Dare to Lead," Brown emphasizes the importance of vulnerability as a key trait for effective leadership. She argues that leaders who are willing to show vulnerability create environments where teams feel more connected, engaged, and capable of tackling challenges together. 

“At the heart of daring leadership is a deeply human truth that is rarely acknowledged, especially at work: Courage and fear are not mutually exclusive. Most of us feel brave and afraid at the exact same time. We feel vulnerable. Sometimes all day long.” (Brene Brown, Dare to Lead)

In contrast, leaders who are inauthentic often rely on facades and power plays to maintain control. This can create a culture of fear and mistrust, which stifles creativity and innovation.

Heart-centered leaders build strong connected teams. Trust and respect are essential for creating a safe and supportive environment where people feel comfortable being vulnerable. Without a sense of safety, trust, and respect, being vulnerable in communication can be used against us in bullying or degrading ways.

This is why it is so important to create a culture of trust and respect in the workplace. When people feel safe and respected, they are more likely to be open and honest with each other. This can lead to stronger relationships, better communication, and increased innovation.

How to Create Heart-Centered Relationships

Creating heart-centered relationships in the workplace is not always easy, but it is worth the effort. Here are a few tips:

  • Be authentic and transparent about your emotions. Let people see the real you.

  • Be respectful. Listen to others and try to understand their perspectives.

  • Be compassionate and supportive. Offer help when needed and be there for others during difficult times.

  • Be open to feedback. Be willing to listen with curiosity to what others have to say, even if it is critical.

  • Be patient. Building heart-centered relationships takes time and effort.

During my corporate retreat introductions, I start by asking people, “What life-challenging issue are you facing that makes you feel most vulnerable?” While it is a difficult question to share in front of peers, participants often tell me later that answering it was one of the biggest catalysts for co-creating a transformational team-building retreat.

This exercise is a powerful way to build trust and connection among team members. It allows people to see each other's vulnerabilities and to realize that they are not alone in their struggles. This can lead to a greater sense of compassion, which is essential for creating a positive and productive work environment.

Fostering heart-centered relationships and authentic leadership is pivotal for cultivating a thriving and harmonious work environment. When leaders embrace vulnerability and authenticity, they pave the way for trust, respect, and collaboration among team members. This trust and respect form the foundation for open communication, innovative thinking, and ultimately, organizational success. By prioritizing authenticity, empathy, and compassion, leaders can create a workplace culture where individuals feel valued, supported, and empowered to bring their whole selves to work. Through initiatives such as vulnerability exercises and genuine connection-building, teams can forge deeper bonds and foster a culture of inclusivity and understanding. As we continue to prioritize heart-centered relationships in the workplace, we unlock the potential for greater collaboration, creativity, and fulfillment for all members of the organization.


Q: What are the benefits of heart-centered leadership?

A: Heart-centered leadership can lead to increased collaboration, improved communication, reduced conflict, increased innovation, and improved productivity. As a leader you’ll feel more comfortable in your own skin by simply being who you are.

Q: How can I create heart-centered relationships in the workplace?

A: Be authentic, respectful, compassionate, supportive, open to feedback, and patient.

Q: What are some tips for being an authentic leader?

A: Be true to yourself and your values, be vulnerable, and show your human side.

Heart-centered leadership and relationships are essential for creating a positive and productive work environment. When leaders are authentic and team members feel connected and valued, the results are transformative.

Just as a heart beats to sustain life, authentic connections keep organizations alive with innovation and collaboration.


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