The last twelve months have been some of the most challenging in my life.

We got into a miracle home at the last minute through an unexpected financial gift. Six weeks later we were evacuated due to the Carr Fire leading to three months in temporary accommodation. We moved back in to our blackened but largely intact neighborhood after more than $100k insurance cleanup. A couple months later we had snowmageddon that destroyed half the remaining few trees that escaped the fire. A couple months after that a close friend lost his son in a car accident. At the same time I had team members with health challenges including heart attacks and cancer.

Brave leadership

A friend (who lost their house entirely) did a stress assessment online and found he surpassed the scale. There is no check box for ‘disaster’ and we had at least two. Bottom line, he thought we were amazing to be still standing!

Life doesn’t stop when disaster happens. So how on earth are you supposed to lead a team, lead a movement and most importantly, lead a family when you are walking through chaos?

I picked up Brene’ Brown’s book Dare to Lead. I also brought in a friend, Laura Duncan to talk to my team about Self-Care. And we employed a massage therapist to come in once a week for stress management. But I was feeling completely out of my depth. Help me Jesus!!!

I realized my leadership depth is where I feel I can control things… FIX things. At this time my life was way out of my control. There was nothing I could fix. All I could do was be present and I didn’t feel very useful doing that. Is that even something you do???


I’m learning.

I’m observing three different leadership styles.

Strength based leadership where the leader is the strongest person in the room. It’s positional leadership where you dominate until you are beaten by a new higher performing individual. It’s a culture of physical competition and performance. Genghis Kahn.

Head based leadership where the leader is the smartest person in the room. Here the leader has the highest or quickest intellect or ‘expert’ status. It’s a culture of mental competition and performance. If you don’t innovate you are cut. Elon Musk. Steve Jobs.

Heart based leadership where the leader is the one who has the hearts (belonging, connection, trust) of those that follow. Jesus.

My problem is it’s easier to be a strong leader or smart leader. It’s easy being a positional leader or the smartest person in the room – just surround yourself with people less capable than you. You will be the lid. You will build as big as your capacity.

It’s hard to be a heart led leader. It’s authentic but it’s vulnerable. It’s awkward; kind of like a pelican starting to fly – all wings and jerky until you get in the air. But you can attract and empower people bigger than you and you will accomplish things that go far greater than your own ability or capacity.



1. Embrace kindness – be kind to yourself. I realized I was treating my employees better than I treat (and speak) to myself. If I was working for myself I would quit! What can you do to ease up on the performance and love yourself? How can you be kind to yourself and in doing so you will be much kinder to those you lead?

2. Don’t be in a hurry – busyness robs connection. Without connection you won’t build trust. Make time to be present. Being present is your job. In times of disaster the biggest thing people need is to know you are with them. Don’t’ be in a hurry to ‘heal.’ Don’t rush the process of people.

3. Make room for awkward – awkward is ok. Get used to it. On the other side of awkward conversation, awkward behavior, not knowing what to do… is a whole lot of life changing connection.

4. Listen, don’t answer – people need to vent. If you try fix it you will kill the connection. Communicate that you are hearing them. It’s not about the nail (see video clip)

5. Follow the Voice – in everything keep your connection with the One who knows all things and is unmoved by everything else that is shaking around you. Be still. Make time to connect with Him and hear His perspective and direction.

There are times when you need the strongest person in the room to lead and other times when you need the smartest person to step up. But being the heart led leader you will create an environment where you can have BOTH AND you go the distance AND you build better than you.

For more on this subject grab a copy of Dare to Lead by Brene Brown.