Jeff Kaplan, President, Leading With HeartJeff Kaplan, President
Leading with Heart helps leaders improve their ability to manage, influence, and develop others using a heart-based approach to leadership. The company utilizes real-life situations to enable leaders to identify their strengths, close competency gaps, and become more purposeful, engaged, empathetic, understanding, and humble. These leaders play a vital role in creating a great organizational culture and retaining talents—the key to long-term business success.

In an interview with Manage HR magazine, Jeff Kaplan, president, Leading with Heart, shares insights into the company’s mission and vision and its comprehensive approach.

Challenges for Today’s Leaders

The world is changing at a breakneck speed. Talent retention has today become one of the biggest challenges for organizations. Millennials and Gen Z make up more than half the workforce and want to feel emotionally connected to their work and manager. Managers who cannot connect their employees’ contributions to a compelling vision or who struggle to connect emotionally with the employees are failing. We help leaders use both their head and heart to make decisions that are best for the organization and carry out such decisions in a way that is best for its people.

Helping Leaders across the Panel

We work with four different kinds of clients. The first on the list are senior leaders. As organizations have become more diverse, global, technologically advanced, matrixed, and competitive, today’s leaders need to think innovatively and become more empathetic. We help them achieve that feat. The next target audience is highpotential individuals who are quickly climbing the ranks. We prepare them for the next role while helping them be more effective in the present role. A significant portion of our work also entails working with teams and their leaders to develop a psychologically safe environment for collaboration and dissent. Last but not least, we work with people who express arrogance and help them become more empathetic and relationship-oriented.

Unique Approaches to Help Leaders

Albert Einstein once said, “No problem can be solved from t he s ame l evel o f c onsciousness t hat c reated i t.” In coaching, we are doing two things: raising awareness and forwarding the action. We “raise awareness” through various assessments and methodologies, using a supportive but direct approach to giving feedback. We assess and share insights into “who the leader is” and how they are showing up. We help them leverage their natural strengths, design structures and strategies to mediate their potential derailers and make changes to align their motivators with their business goals. We use real-life situations and problems that the leader brings to the coaching as fodder for their development. This is crucial to solving immediate problems while building sustainable competencies.

Leading with Heart typically undertakes a 12- step process while engaging with clients. It starts with clarifying the objectives and metrics of the program by conversing with human resources and other referring parties. This is followed by the introduction of the process to the clients, understanding their professional and personal goals, and aligning our work with the larger organizational vision. The next step revolves around creating a roadmap to drive the program toward success. We then use various tools to assess the leader’s strengths and development opportunities, and identify a baseline for the coaching engagement.

The client and coach work together to create a Leadership Development Plan identifying strengths to leverage, behavioural objectives, action steps, success metrics, and completion timelines.

Our team also periodically checks the effectiveness of the engagement. We then give clients a feedback form and prepare a detailed assessment report towards the end of the engagement to reveal how they improved and theprogress m ade. T ypically, a fter t hree t o s ix m onths, we schedule a follow-up session to ensure everything is working perfectly and recalibrate certain areas if the need arises.

Intriguing Instances of Client Success

Retention is a growing challenge that has been getting significant attention lately. In one engagement, the leader leveraged the results of a DISC and team assessment we d id w ith h er a nd h er t eam t o r eassign t asks b ased on people’s natural abilities and interests instead of job titles. It was an incredibly bold and powerful move that led to greater work satisfaction and improved morale.

We help leaders use both their head and heart to make decisions that are best for the organization and carry out such decisions in a way that is best for its people

In another example, a leader did not fit into the culture. We used the power of an interview-based 360combined with a tool we designed called “Co-creating the Working Alliance” to help this leader go from being one step toward termination to being very successful and eventually taking over his manager’s job.

Ceaseless Endeavor to Thrive

Recently, we have launched our proprietary Leading with Heart Self-Assessment (LwH-A) and Leading with Heart 360 (LwH-360) based on 30 years of practice, as well as research on topics like humility, empathy, and engagement which measures how much purpose, engagement, empathy, understanding, and humility exists within a leader or organization.

The assessment consists of thirty questions that address each of the five tenants that make up a heartbased leader. This enables us to quickly assess the person’s leadership style, at least as perceived by others and by the persons themselves. We continue to develop tools and strategies that help leaders develop greater empathy and become humbler.

Our latest project that we are very excited about is our 2 ½-day Leading with Heart certification. This program is designed to help HR professionals and professional coaches create positive and sustainable changes with those hard-to-reach leaders. It will be launched in early 2023.