Stressed woman slapping her head
Stressed woman slapping her head Huntstock/Getty Images
Commentary

The One Thing You Can’t Forget to Bring to Work

Jun 13, 2017

The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question, “What advice do you have for college graduates entering the workforce?” is written by Ellyn Shook, chief leadership and human resources officer at Accenture.

I have been in the workforce now for over 30 years. I’ve traveled all over the world and learned from some of the most brilliant minds in business and academia. Yet one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned about success at work comes from my 25-year-old daughter, Jessie: Never leave home without your heart.

After four years at university, our brains have become well-trained and we’re comfortable in a world of facts, trends, problems, and solutions. But what about our hearts? I truly believe that emotion plays an equally important role in the relationships we build in the workplace. To borrow from a woman I admire, Angela Ahrendts, senior vice president at Apple, “The more technologically advanced our society becomes, the more we need to go back to basic fundamentals of human communication.”

What does bringing your heart to work look like? I think we all need to invest more in relationships by taking the time to connect genuinely with others and being interested in the details of their lives. It involves kindness and acceptance. Together, these things go a long way to help people feel a sense of belonging at work. Bringing your heart to work also means being willing to share yourself. Let people in. Ask for what you need. Trust that what you give will come back to you twofold.

These are difficult things to do, particularly when we’ve overdeveloped our brains and neglected our hearts—particularly in the workplace. But the level of trust, transparency, and collaboration I’ve witnessed on teams who are courageous enough to open up and share more of themselves has been extraordinary.

This message was underscored to me last weekend as we celebrated my niece’s graduation from Yale. We had the pleasure of hearing Theo Epstein, a Yale graduate and the mastermind behind the Chicago Cubs’ return to glory, speak at College Day.

He shared the story of the Cubs’ championship season and explained that while the analytics he is famous for were important, the real difference-maker was the strong human connection within the team.

The best example of this was in how the players reacted during the rain delay during a tied game seven of the World Series. Epstein described how during a delay, players normally take it easy, change jerseys, or check their phones. But this time, the players made a conscious choice to connect with each other; they held a players’ meeting to lift each other up at the most pivotal moment of their season. In Epstein’s words, “A player’s character matters. The heartbeat matters. Fears and aspirations matter. The player’s impact on others matters. The tone he sets matters. The willingness to connect matters. Breaking down cliques and overcoming stereotypes matters. Who you are, how you live among others, that all matters. ”

Class of 2017: Don't be afraid to be who you are and show your heart. By doing so, you open yourself to relationships that will carry you through the ups and downs of your career. As you begin this exciting new chapter, remember to bring your whole self—your head and your heart—to work every single day.

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