BOOK REVIEW: The Heart-Led Leader

Continuing education and personal betterment are two of the more popular goals set for 2016.  What better way to learn than by some of the noted authors, such as Tommy Spaulding, in his book The Heart-Led Leader.

In Spaulding’s book, The Heart-Led Leader, he explains what is needed to be a better leader, with each attribute illustrated as one of 18 inches – the distance from your heart to your brain.

Spaulding starts out by saying that the top three questions a heart-led leader ask are:

  1. How can I serve today?
  2. How can I make someone smile?
  3. How can I do right?

One of the first tasks to complete is change the way of thinking from a “what”-driven society to a “who”-driven society.  From “What do I want to be when I grow up?” to “Who do I want to be when I grow up?”  The journey to becoming a heart-led leader is to start with the “who” – by taking the 19-inch journey from the head to the heart.

One does not have to be an overly touchy person to lead with the heart, but to be understanding, compassionate and empathetic is most important.

The 18 inches were not surprising, but the manner in which Spaulding explained each of them via true stories from businesses big and small, helped to drive in the reasoning behind each of them.  All inches won’t be detailed here, as reading the book is much more beneficial, but some of the more poignant stories are mentioned below.


Spaulding explains that respect is given once people acknowledge that you are authentic.  As illustrated in the Graebal example, to be a Who Leader, people need to respect the person they work for and not just the position.


Spaulding’s example that we can list Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, etc. because they all accomplished amazing results while facing challenges.

…it takes more than a title to create a legacy.  Titles mean little unless they are accompanied by ideas and actions that make a difference in people’s lives.

Generosity is made up of two parts: compassion and commitment.


How frustrating is it to reach out to someone and not receive a response?  It is so important to respond, and do so honestly.

No is an acceptable answer, but no answer at all is not acceptable.

These are just three of the 18 inches, or attributes, that describe how one can become a heart-led leader.

This book is highly recommended for managers and business owners with 2 or 2,000 employees.  The attributes make total sense and the stories illustrate how realistic this form of leadership can be.