What does it mean
to lead with the Head,
Heart and Hands?

  • The most important consideration in the workplace of the future is how to keep people, and the human touch, at the core of business. Organizations need to ensure that human decisions determine how the workplace will operate rather than getting sucked into a world governed by algorithms.

  • Women using mobile device

  • Technology is important but people must come first, and people need to be able to control variables and thresholds, overrule any automated interventions, and most importantly, preside over ethical and moral quandaries based on human experiences and logical thinking.

    For business leaders, perhaps the most critical task in creating the workplace of the future is to make their people feel engaged and involved. This will define their future business success. This means leading from the front with strong and authentic leadership that balances forward-looking optimism with a realistic outlook on what employees can expect from any new working model. 

    Employees are looking to leaders for empathy, assurance and meaningful action, so leaders need to be fully engaged in what’s going on in real time, and be seen and heard. They must show that they are investing their hearts and minds to support their workforce—particularly when physical interactions start ceding into virtual interactions—and focus on the “connective tissue” that binds people together across geographies and time zones.

  • The most critical task in creating the workplace of the future is to make their people feel engaged and involved. This will define their future business success. 

  • There are three key human-centric and interlocking pillars for leadership: “The Power of Head, Heart and Hands.” These pillars must work well together—each supports the others in a cohesive organization:

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    1. The Head: This is about envisioning the future and focusing on the big rocks. What is our organization’s strategy and vision? 

      • Leaders must draw on their strategic thinking, their imagination, their knowledge of customer needs and desires, and their pool of expertise, experience and wisdom to forge an aspirational vision. They set priorities, focusing on the “big rocks” that will deliver results and create enduring value

    2. The Heart: This is about inspiring and empowering people. What is our organization’s purpose, values and culture? 

      • Leaders must invest time and energy in articulating, activating and embedding this purpose across the organization. Companies must create an empowering culture, shaped by leaders, that allows people to do their best work

    3. The Hands: This is about executing and innovating with agility. What is our set of actions to make that happen?

      • Leaders ensure disciplined execution by equipping teams with the resources they need to make sound, prompt decisions. Companies also apply innovative methods and digital tools, and institute Agile ways of working, to accelerate output, remove impediments and enable end-to-end focus on the customer

    We believe that the COVID-19 pandemic gives leaders the opportunity to deliberately reflect on and seize the opportunity to reset their organization’s pillars—defining their recovery strategy (Head), their culture, values and purpose (Heart) and the capabilities needed to get there (Hands). It’s particularly important to focus on organizational culture at this time—while markets eventually recover, cultures often do not, and BCG research (November 2018) has shown that companies with a strong and authentic culture outperform their peers at every turn.

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  • They need to think about where the business has been strong and where it has missed the mark; which new practices might they want to keep, and which initiatives or capabilities they want to continue, stop or start; and are decisions and actions aligning with the company’s purpose? And then, more importantly, they need to translate theory into actions. How can these pillars be communicated, (re)articulated, activated and embedded into the post-crisis organization in order to fuel recovery? This will establish the path forward.


  •  When it comes to Head, Hearts and Hands, Verizon has traditionally been really good at the Hands (we’re known for our operational excellence), pretty good at the Heart, but less effective on the Head—or at least we were until about 18 months ago when we defined Verizon 2.0 and established 5G as our North Star. That led us to take a step back and really think about our strategy to become a 5G leader. And that’s what we’ve done—for Verizon and our different business units. But we’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about our culture. We’ve defined a new purpose—to create the networks that move the world forward—which gives a nice nod to our network leadership but also recognizes the networks of people, customers, partners and communities that are part of our world. This purpose also led us to redefine our key stakeholder groups—we’ve always had customers, employees and shareholders, but we have now also added in society. And that means society from a philanthropic giving standpoint, but also when we think about how we build products, where we source talent and where we build office locations. Society has to be part of our decision-making.
    —Tami Erwin