Leadership: A Trait Developed by the Heart

By Sean Christopher Quow Thomason

person speaking to a group of people

Often when Grand Canyon University students think of leadership, they imagine the closest influential figure available: Brian Mueller. It is no secret that Mueller has a heart for GCU’s students, a trait that easily allows him to stand out from the prototypical example of a university president. He is amply aware of the challenges ahead while also considerate and passionate about the present. It could easily be said by onlookers that this brand of personal connection is part of what has led him to the successful career he has today. By using these passions to work with purpose for the goals he set, Mueller continually advocates and works for the interests of GCU and its students. These passionate traits are what have led to him being heralded as the heart-forward individual he is today.

However, leadership of this sort is not birthed from nothing: passion is a trait that comes from the heart. Passionate leadership has the potential to affect and connect a team of people in ways that authoritarian leadership could never dream of. Think of great leaders you have come across in the past: teachers, bosses, friends and others. What was it that allowed them to make such an active impact on you? Often, the instance when a leader connects with a person’s heart is the same moment they create a true follower and friend. Knowing how to connect is the truest and arguably the most efficient way to break barriers. When able to adopt an active and kind method of connection with those in your charge, you become more than just a leader: you become a role-model and peer worthy of admiration. The type of leader whose relationship with followers enables an ever-growing grasp of what is to be achieved.

As a leader, being aware of your followers’ lives can make a world of difference. Inquiring about their past experiences and biases grants you with background information on what makes them tick and what is necessary to properly inspire work. Through constant interaction, you become aware of who will fit best into what position, build efficiency and optimize fluidity under your leadership. Though it is not always obvious, recognizing individuals and understanding where their skills lie is one of the best ways to serve them. If properly asserted, in the end you not only benefit them, you uplift yourself and the community by catering to the skills and passions of each individual under you.

In this vein, it would be remiss not to consider the level of servant leadership that has been exemplified by influential leaders in the past. In the new gospels, Jesus provides many lessons on how to lead those around you. In the book of Matthew, he speaks to His disciples and states that “whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26-28). Even before Jesus spoke this truth unto his followers, serving from the heart was not a new concept. True servant leadership, selfless, love-led servant leadership, has been espoused by monks and philosophers since before their words could even be captured on stone. Naturally, leadership of this sort is vital to the success of any workplace or community. It is pivotal that even those in positions of power serve the needs of their followers, and in doing so, strengthen the bonds of their community even further.

Jesus and Brian Mueller, though worlds apart, both serve the communities they call family and home from a place of selfless ambition. By forming strong relationships with those in their charge, no matter the station, their influence and impact have grown far greater than either initially envisioned. Therefore, it is incredibly important to encapsulate the teachings and actions of those before you and truly focus on whomever you are speaking to, ask questions about their passions and be interested in the individual that they are. Show them love, show them kindness and show them leadership worth striving towards.

At the end of the day, having a sought-after position or title is not nearly enough. As an honors student, you must work to allow the passion burning within you to spark fires in the hearts of others so that a true community of understanding and growth can be established and allowed to blaze.

To learn more about how you can join the servant leader community in Grand Canyon University’s Honors College, visit our website or click the Request More Information button on this page.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.