Leading With Heart

Smart, highly educated professionals. They’ve been to the Ivies, they’ve written books, people listen when they speak. It’s easy for them to believe that what really matters is how smart they are.

But the most successful know that heart matters.

This past year, I’ve had the delight of working with one of the sharpest people I know, a commercial real estate deal lawyer. I had a thorny residential real estate problem and called Kevin first, knowing he would know where to send me.

Instead, he spent an hour with me, asking questions and offering excellent advice. He too quickly became outraged by the situation. He didn’t bill me—and promised to refer me to someone less pricey when I was ready to act. He checked in occasionally—still not on the clock—and gave me pointers. When it was time to engage, I knew it was Kevin I must work with.

Was that his plan? No. Was I his sweet-spot client? No. Did he charge me what he charged commercial clients? No. But he fought for me, believed in my case and made me laugh when I wanted to rip someone’s throat out instead. He was, in a word, unforgettable.

The lesson here? Don’t shy away from taking on that non-traditional client if their cause tugs at you. Sometimes, it’s good to lead with your heart.


  • The heart knows no reason. And, as I have found in business, and in life, that can be a good thing… and a bad thing.

  • And so I laughed at reading the first paragraph. The how smart on is does not just reside with those who attend the best schools or who have great, prestigious gigs. Find it almost anywhere I dare say. The know-it-alls often lack enough knowledge to know what they know nothing about and share their expert opinions.
    Sometimes providing help, sharing some knowledge, helps keeps a friend or colleague from getting screwed financially or otherwise. Leading with the heart becomes the moral thing to do. And frankly it feels good to help.

  • Thank you Jeff and Corey–it is truly about the heart, no? And yep, Corey, I do think that was Kevin’s motivation and I for one am truly grateful. It’s nice to have a smart, resourceful (yet really nice) bulldog in your corner…

  • jim reece

    How true. It seems those most valuable are those most true. Lessons for us all over the place.

  • Hi Jim–thanks for stopping by! You and Toni both lead with great heart…..

  • peter getpff

    Rochelle, as usual your wisdom reverberates far and wide. Yes, it is easy, I think it is our human propensity to make rules, to become overly rigid about what we can and cannot do, should and should not do……..It makes us feel more secure and safe, but is not always the right way to go. I have been there myself.

    I couldn’t agree with you more…sometimes you need to go with your heart,
    your instincts, your viscera.

    Thanks once again for the inspiration.

    Peter G.

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