Aligning the Head and Heart Posture of Leadership

Our most significant accomplishments are on the other side of hard work, late nights, problem-solving, and occasional setbacks. Any great endeavor, goal, or initiative must have a unified strength of purpose, and this oneness involves “the people.” It is also imperative to have the leadership capacity to work with people to get things done. That takes a confident attitude and a posture that blends the head and heart. To set the stage for this conversation, everyone reading this blog is “a leader of leaders.” This phrase means that everyone is responsible for the growth and success of each other. When you read the word “leader,” I am talking to your head and heart.

  • When leaders lose touch with their hearts, they can become dictatorial and callus. 
  • When leaders lose touch with their heads, they can become ineffective and messy. 
  • Great things can happen when the leader’s head and heart are aligned. 

So how do we go about achieving this alignment? Let’s take a closer look.

Teachers, educators, administrators, and students often make quick difficult decisions. The leader’s head and heart must be aligned to make clear decisions. Too often prioritize one over the other, thus leading ourselves astray. When a leader leads without consideration for their own emotions or values, the leader can quickly become rigid and inflexible. Alternatively, if our hearts guide us without thought for reason or logic, we can quickly become emotional and irrational. By learning to balance these two aspects of ourselves as leaders, we can find stability and make informed decisions that uphold our values while still considering all available information. 

To best align the head and heart posture in the Open Water, the following is guidance to approach perspective and community.

The Need to Transition

As I pen this blog in May 2022, I have experienced several victories in my tenure as an educator and administrator. I led professional development on many topics, moved a building to a 1:1 platform with students, and navigated through pandemic and choppy political waters. I am proud of my leadership and how I have handled myself during these trying times. But, as we all know, the world is constantly changing, and so must our leadership. Just as we need to be lifelong learners, we also need to be adaptive leaders continually growing and evolving.

Let’s be clear. I have had my share of bumps, bruises, and concussions while leading. As a reflective leader, I have made significant decisions and a few short-sighted decisions. I have also had to make some decisions that I knew were not going to be popular, but I was convinced they were in the best interest of my students and staff. In leadership, you are not always going to make everyone happy, but your goal should be to make most people comfortable with the direction you are taking them.

The Need for Self Reflection

Organizations, companies, teams, and professional learning communities are working on goals that will experience merging growth and occasionally leak in propulsion. If you find yourself in a leadership role, you must make the necessary changes to ensure the longevity and success of your team. These changes can be complex, but they are essential for forward movement.

The first step in making these changes is to assess where you are as a leader. Take some time to reflect by asking yourself these questions:

  1. What is my leadership style?
  2. What is my communication style?
  3. How do I determine what is worthy of being communicated?
  4. How can I better align my head and heart posture to achieve success in leading my team?

By taking the time to answer these questions honestly, you will get a better sense of where you need to make changes in your leadership style. It is also important to seek feedback from those you trust and who have been impacted by your leadership. Remember, leadership is not a one size fits all approach. The best leaders are the ones who are constantly growing and evolving. So, don’t be afraid to try new things and experiment. Whether you try out an idea or create a system/structure, communicate the direction and the mindset for the movement and bring people with you during the ideation phase.

The Need for Equity

It is always essential to keep equity at the forefront of our minds as educators. With that said, resist the urge to fall into the “equity buzzword” trap. Take notice of your colleagues who might be using the word equity to join ideas together or if your peers use the word as a pivot from uncomfortable topics. If either of these scenarios happens, know kids are hurting.

If you want to move the conversation towards authentic equity, shift the focus and shine a light on how the system intentionally or unintentionally excludes students. When we make it about kids, things tend to get more personal for people, and they are more likely to think critically about their practices.

Be mindful of your leadership style and how it might be perpetuating inequitable structures. If you need to make changes in your leadership style, don’t be afraid to do so. The best leaders are the ones who are constantly growing and evolving. So, embrace change and use it as an opportunity to become a better leader. 


In closing, I want to leave you with this thought.

“The head provides the information while the heart makes meaning of that information. It’s the tension between the two that allows us to lead with intention and authenticity.” – Craig Hartman


What are your thoughts? How do you align your head and heart posture when it comes to leadership?

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