The Core Value of Heart-Centeredness—Creating space for heart in the workplace

This is the second blog of the seven-blog series, Creating a workplace where people thrive: The power of organizational core values.

How do companies create a thriving workforce? It all boils down to one thing: core values. In this post, we’ll explore how leading from the heart creates a happier and more productive workforce.

Magnolia Value statement: We lead with our hearts and create harmonious relationships that honor unique perspectives and harness our collective strengths.

The thought of being a “heart-centered” organization might make some people uncomfortable. That’s understandable. The phrase “heart-centered” tends to conjure images of awkward group hugs, sappy affirmations, and celebrations for every occasion. All that warm-fuzzy stuff that takes up time and seemingly doesn’t contribute to productivity, innovation, or effectiveness. And yet, herein lies the misconception about what it means to be a heart-centered organization and why this value is so powerful.

At Magnolia Consulting, being heart-centered is who we are—not because we thrive on group hugs (we are virtual, after all)—but because we understand what it means to lead and work from the heart as well as the mind. Like most organizations, we engage in outward-facing displays of kindness, such as offering pro bono work to nonprofit organizations, celebrating work anniversaries, and sharing “tokens of appreciation” with our customers, clients, and partners. But that’s not why heart-centeredness rates as a core value for us. At Magnolia, our heart-centered approach informs every decision we make. 

When we work and lead from the heart, we honor the unique strengths and qualities of each team member as well as ourselves. We respect our differing abilities, perspectives, and contributions. We celebrate each other’s breakthroughs and accomplishments, because we believe that when our colleagues succeed, we all succeed. We provide constructive and purposeful feedback to each other without demeaning, devaluing, or criticizing anyone’s contributions. We choose to believe we are all operating from our best intentions at any given time, and when we make mistakes or perform less than we would’ve liked, we see these moments as opportunities for growth rather than blame and degradation. We are mindful of how our words and actions impact others, and we pay attention to how our inner dialogue affects our sense of worth and value. We act with compassion—meaning we care about understanding another’s challenging experiences and want to help ameliorate them.

These behaviors might seem like no-brainers, but they aren’t always common or consistently practiced in organizations. Yet, they are essential to harmonious organizational cultures. When team members feel valued, recognized, appreciated, and heard—core values we all have—they stay longer, produce more, and work to improve the company’s bottom line.

Heart-centered practices aren’t all warm and fuzzy. They require self-reflection, awareness, and courage. And why is that? Why can’t we just stick with outward-facing acts of kindness? The answer is simple: Heart-centeredness begins in the hearts of individuals before it becomes an outward expression. When we are heart-centered, we recognize that our ego is often the biggest driver of how we show up in relationship to our colleagues.

The ego is how we see ourselves and our self-importance. It is the part of us that worries about how we measure up to others. The ego thrives on fear and constantly looks for threats that might tear it down. When we lead from the ego and perceive our interactions and circumstances from a place of fear—rather than heart—we invite judgment, envy, blame, shame, resentment, and anger into our organizations.

Fear-based organizations constrict us.

Heart-centered organizations expand us. 

It’s natural (and completely okay) to feel fear, but we don’t want fear to rule us. To choose something different, we must recognize when fear is behind our words and actions, so we can consciously shift away from the ego and toward the heart. Heart-centeredness is a core value for Magnolia because it reminds us that we have a choice in how we show up for ourselves and in our relationships with others.

Being heart-centered matters all the time, but we believe it’s essential during times of conflict. And let’s face it, all organizations experience conflict. Consider what happens when we face a tight deadline or competing deadlines. Panic is one of the most common responses. Panic increases stress, reduces sleep, and stifles productivity. It’s hard to produce excellent work under these circumstances.

At Magnolia, when deadlines seem impossible, we name our fears. When it comes to deadlines, a common fear is not having enough time to produce the quality of work our client expect and our reputation depends on. Then there’s the byproduct of that fear: anticipating the necessary personal sacrifices (late nights and weekends) and professional adjustments (moving meetings, delaying other projects) required to meet the deadline. After identifying our fears, we name the unmet needs lurking behind them. Stress, in a nutshell, is how we react when our needs are not met. In this example, the obvious unmet need is the ability to work under conditions that allow us to deliver our best while also being present for our families. A second need is for others to respect our time and honor all of our professional commitments.

Once we understand our needs, we identify how to meet them. We acknowledge that while we might not be able to control our deadlines, we can control how we respond to the situation they create for us. We can resist and resent our circumstances by thinking things like, “I’ll never be able to do this,” or “I can’t believe I’m expected to work like this.” Or, we can choose a heart-centered narrative by saying, “I was presented with an ambitious timeframe, and I’m doing the best I can in this moment to meet it. Things always find a way of working out.” As we change our attitude, we can also reflect on future choices that can be made to ensure this experience isn’t repeated. This simple, yet powerful, shift in our thinking can transform how we feel about our work. When we take ownership of our narrative and honoring our own needs, we feel happier and work more productively.

As you can see, being heart-centered is about way more than warm fuzzy stuff. Heart-centeredness calls on us to be mindful of how we show up for ourselves, our colleagues, and in situations. It requires us to self-reflect, bring awareness to our inner thoughts, and recognize we can change our narrative from fear-based to heart-centered thinking. It’s about being responsive rather than reactive, which means leading from the heart and not the ego. Leading from the heart creates organizations that thrive because they aren’t constricted by fear.

Can you recognize when fear-based thinking is taking over at work?

Just for today, how can you shift a fear-based thought to a heart-centered one?

If you’re an employer what are you doing to create a harmonious culture? 

Are there additional ways you can lead with an open heart?

 

Magnolia’s Core Values: What They Are and How We Live Them

This is the first blog of the seven-blog series, Creating a workplace where people thrive: The power of organizational core values.

 

When I started Magnolia in 2002, I didn’t have a mission or vision statement for the company. All I knew is that I wanted to create an organization that would “cultivate learning and positive change” through excellent work. When I wrote that tag line, I meant it not only for those we serve but for each employee. I wanted Magnolia to be a place where team members thrived and realized their full potential. Sixteen years later, our team finally captured what makes Magnolia a special place to work.

After an enriching discussion, we arrived at seven core values: heart-centeredness, integrity, abundance, service, cultivation, excellence, and use-focused results. These core values represent what matters to us, what defines us, and what drives us. They anchor our words, actions, and decisions while also guiding our relationships and interactions with each other and our clients. When deliberating next steps, decision points, and possibilities, they ensure our actions are congruent with what defines us. If our work shifts away from what matters most, they give us the courage to make the choices necessary to realign with what we value.

Our core values are more than a framed print hanging on an office wall.

They are our compass.

As I reflect on what makes Magnolia unique, I’m compelled to share how we live our core values. Not because we are a perfect company, but because I believe values matter. They inspire us to be better leaders and employees. They give us the courage to break through our limitations and realize our potential. When we breathe life into our values, they are the catalyst for cultivating learning and positive change.

If organizational core values matter to you, I hope you’ll follow this blog series. Each post will explore one of Magnolia’s core values, including what it means, why it matters, and how we live it. Whether you’re interested in capturing what makes your company a special place to work, or you want to realign the compass directing you or your business, I hope this exploration of our core values catalyzes something for you or your organization.

Get the Story Straight, and the Rest Will Follow: Developing infographics with a purpose

Too often, people begin developing infographics by playing with templates, images, and data visualizations. And who can blame them? It’s fun! But while this process will produce an infographic, it might not result in a story that connects with your audience. A better approach is to begin by making intentional decisions about your infographic: clearly defining your audience, purpose, and message constitutes three foundational and critical steps for developing an effective infographic.

Identify Your Audience (The Who). The first step of 10 Steps to Creating an Infographic focuses on identifying the information needs and interests of your intended audience. What information matters to them? How much do they understand about research and evaluation, and what might this mean for the tone and language you use? The local context in which your audience will access and use your infographic has implications for design elements you choose during later steps of infographic development, such as layout, size, and visualizations.

Clarify Purpose (The Why). The second step is about determining what you hope to accomplish through the infographic. Why are you creating it? What do you hope will change for your audience as a result of reading it? The purpose of an infographic can range from increasing awareness of a topic, issue, or research finding to improving program implementation or instructional practices based on study results. Think of purpose as the intended outcome of your infographic.

Create Story and Message (The What). The third step involves creating your main message, with primary points, secondary points, and supporting details. The story is what you share with your audience to achieve the infographic’s purpose. An effective story that conveys a compelling message includes an engaging title, an introduction with the foundational information the audience needs to grasp the main message, and a conclusion with a call to action that reinforces the purpose of your infographic. The story is intentional. It is not an afterthought or a by-product of populating a page with super cool images and data visualizations.

Getting the story straight by identifying your audience, clarifying your purpose, and creating an intentional main message will set the course for subsequent design decisions for your infographic. As you contemplate design elements, keep yourself in check by asking, “Does this support the main message and purpose of the infographic? Will this resonate with my audience?” Following this process will result in an infographic with greater coherence, clarity, and relevance for your audience.

For more information about Magnolia Consulting’s infographic services, tools, and resources visit the Tools and Resources page!