February 8

The Power of the Heart and Head in Leadership

In leadership, it is crucial to understand the power of both the heart and the head. Every decision, every strategy, and every argument should be grounded in a combination of rational thinking and emotional connection.

In this thought-provoking discussion with David Hennessy, VP of Sales at Kite Pharma, we dive into the significance of balancing the heart and head in leadership. We also explore the reasons behind the disconnect that sometimes occurs and the implications for success. I hope you enjoy David’s perspective and advice.

The Heart and Head: A Powerful Combination

"Every WHY should have two components. One is the head, which is your rational thinking about a decision. Is it a numbers game? Show me the strength of the market—things like that. The other one is the heart." - David Hennessy

As leaders, we must recognize that our decisions should be rooted in rationality and emotion. The head represents the logical aspect, where we analyze data, assess market strength, and consider the numbers. On the other hand, the heart embodies the emotional connection, the passion, and the purpose behind our actions and why we do the work that we do.

"In my industry, we offer hope to many patients. If you can't get excited about that, and that's not your why, then you're in the wrong business." - David Hennessy

In the healthcare industry, the emotional argument is evident. Offering hope to patients, improving lives, and keeping people alive are powerful motivators. However, the importance of balancing the heart and head extends beyond healthcare. In every product or service, there is an emotional argument to be made. Your services could make a person’s life easier, freeing them up to spend important time with their family. Other products might enhance efficiency, which reduces stress and improves your customers overall health. Appealing to both the rational and emotional aspects is crucial.

The Disconnect: Why Leaders Focus on Only the Heart or Head

"I think people are wired a certain way. For example, when I look at my family, they're just, I got a data-driven kid, and I have a non-data-driven kid. And there's, I think people are wired that way, or at least they gravitate one or the other." - David Hennessy

The disconnect between focusing solely on the heart or head can be attributed to individual wiring. Some individuals naturally lean towards the analytical, data-driven approach, while others are more inclined towards the emotional, intuitive side. As leaders, we are responsible for appealing to the broadest audience possible, recognizing that our team members may have different preferences.

It is important to note that leaders do not intentionally neglect one aspect over the other. Instead, their natural inclination towards either the heart or head may lead to an imbalance. Leaders must first understand their wiring and leadership style to bridge this gap. By acknowledging our strengths and weaknesses, we can seek to balance ourselves or collaborate with others who complement our approach.

The Power of Purpose and Emotional Connection

"Patients are very persuasive in terms of how it's impacted them. Patient success stories, physician success stories." - Steven Rosen

In any industry, purpose and emotional connection play a significant role in driving success. Patient success stories, for example, have a profound impact on healthcare sales professionals. Their stories remind them of the positive impact they are making and fuel their motivation to continue their work.

Similarly, in other sectors, it’s important for sales leaders to discuss with their teams the emotional arguments that can be made to highlight their product's or service's benefits, ultimately influencing customer behavior.

The EQ skill of self-awareness is a crucial element in leadership. By understanding our default tendencies, whether we lean towards the heart or head, we can consciously strive for balance. This self-awareness allows us to recognize the importance of both aspects and seek out individuals who can complement our strengths and weaknesses.

Implications Of Only One Focus

"I think anytime you don't rely on BOTH the head and the heart, you're leaving yourself open to a competitor." - David Hennessy

Failing to incorporate the heart and head in leadership can leave organizations vulnerable to competitors who effectively tap into the emotional aspect. Customers are not solely driven by rationality; they are influenced by their emotions and connection with a brand or product. By neglecting the emotional argument, leaders risk losing opportunities and failing to resonate with their target audience.


The power of the heart and head in leadership cannot be underestimated. Every decision, strategy, and argument should be grounded in rational thinking and emotional connection. By recognizing our wiring and seeking balance, we can appeal to a broader audience and drive success. Purpose and emotional connection are powerful motivators.

As we move forward in an increasingly technology driven world, it is crucial for leaders to continually assess their approach to ensure they are incorporating both the heart and head in their decision-making processes. By doing so, they can create a culture that values people, purpose and profits.

Good Selling!


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