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How employers can link the head and the heart

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read
How employers can link the head and the heart

Tracey Ezard, an expert in learning and leadership, joined The HR Leader to discuss how employers can link the head and the heart.

According to Ms Ezard, by combining the emotional and the strategic aspects of management, employers can benefit by increasing employee happiness, resulting in better productivity.

“Great leadership moves between the head and the heart, brings them together and doesn't see one over the other. It's the combination, I call it the paradox of ‘yet’, being able to be explicit, yet empowering. A director, yet a co-creator,” said Ms Ezard.


“Neuroscience is continuing to tell us more and more around how emotions trigger the brain.”

Judith E. Glaser discussed this in her book Conversational Intelligence. Quarry defines conversational intelligence as: “the hardwired and learned ability to connect, engage, and navigate with others. It is the most important intelligence that gets better when we do it together.”

Ms Ezard said: “[Ms Glaser] and I were having a lot of good talks around the emotional behaviours impacting on our ability to think cognitively. To be able to collaborate, to trust.”

She continued: “We can create the behaviours that help people feel safe and the biggest one is being open to influence and being open to having more challenging conversations. If people see us like that and we are able to go into deep listening to people, our brains go 'there’s more safety here for me'. Then we can move into really deeper conversations.”

“If you ask a question of a whole group of people: 'Just have a think about what your answer might be to this question,' they'll just share it with the person next to them. 'Alright, so who can give us some insight from around the table what we just talked about?' You're far more likely for people to have that conversation then because you've created that environment of safety,” said Ms Ezard.

‘Ferocious warmth’ is yet another important concept to help an employer grasp an understanding of neuroscience. The term was coined by Ms Ezard herself – one she uses to encourage employers to think with their head and their heart.

“As a leader, I’m a learner, but as a leader I also create a learning culture. To do that I have to stop just telling people. I have to step into helping them see but also see that I am really open to their ideas. That’s when we get really good, deep, authentic collaboration happening,” said Ms Ezard.

The transcript of this podcast episode, when quoted above, was slightly edited for publishing purposes. The full conversation with Tracey Ezard is below.



Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.