Influence? Try Heart not Head

It’s been a difficult time for leadership over the last week, and although our industry leaders may not have to deal with as much public scrutiny as our political leaders, the principles are pretty much the same. Chief Executive, director or team leader, here are a few things that we might learn about influence from the past few days.

We spend lots of time on risk registers, business analysis and logical thinking. In fact we’re encouraged to by those who lend to us and by those who regulate us. Influencing these groups and perhaps even our risk and audit committees is a matter of presenting logic, numbers and thought. In these circumstances the spreadsheets and the tables will invariably prevail.

The recent campaigning reminds us however how influencing our teams and people might require a different approach. Lets recap; while the ‘Remainers’ pushed hard financial logic that appealed to the ‘head’, the ‘Leavers’ pushed their more emotional messages of taking back control, freedom and independence; appealing to the ‘heart’.

Shakespeare anyone? On the morning of the Battle of Agincourt, Henry V gave a rousing speech to his troops subsequently recounted in Shakespeare’s play. In this, Henry referred to a “band of brothers” not, as far as I remember impending financial doom. He encouraged them to relive previous defeats inflicted on the enemy, not how disastrous things might get for them personally if they lost.

Whatever you think and however you voted (if it matters I was a ‘remain’) it’s apparent now that in leadership as in Shakespeare the ‘heads’ don’t always have it. I’m reminded of one memorable moment I had in a Board meeting earlier this year. My former colleague and Finance Director, an industry stalwart some would call her, responded to a debate where logic had prevailed but the Board had arrived, in her opinion, at the wrong conclusion. Folding her arms and looking towards the Chair she said, “I know what the numbers say, but it’s not fair”.

We might consider that when we next address our team.

Ian Winslett, author and one of Ark’s Directors, former Chief Executive of Suffolk Housing will be engaged in a wide range of Ark profiles. Ian has a particular interest in Governance and Leadership and will be delighted to discuss all aspects of housing delivery.

To find out more about Ian and other members of our team visit or to find out how Ark People & Communities can support your organisation email