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Guiding Principle #5: "Lead with Logic, Follow with Emotion"

In 30+ years of healthcare leadership, this principle is likely the one that has been the greatest struggle for me...not in a way most healthcare providers would naturally relate to; no, for me, leading with logic was not the problem...following with emotion, however, was. "Lead with Logic, Follow with Emotion," my #5 guiding principle of leadership, is one that demonstrates a near paradox of the human experience: the wants versus the needs. Especially pivotal in the sector of healthcare, leading others requires a nuanced balance of rational decision-making with emotional empathy; this includes leading caregivers, family members, patients, and fellow team members. My journey in clinical nursing management underscores the profound impact of balancing analytical thinking with a deep, empathetic connection to others, affirming this principle as fundamental to leading anyone.



"Leading with logic" entails prioritizing rationality and objectivity in decision-making. This approach involves methodically analyzing facts and data, applying critical thinking to assess situations, and making decisions based on reasoned arguments rather than emotional impulses. It's about clarity, structure, and a systematic approach to problem-solving. A leader who leads with logic takes a step back to evaluate situations dispassionately, ensuring that decisions are grounded in reality and practicality, and are defensible with reason and evidence.


Conversely, "follow with emotion" means allowing one's emotional intelligence to guide the aftermath of decision-making. This involves understanding and empathizing with emotional intelligence, the impact your decisions will have, and then using this awareness to shape responses and actions. It's about connecting with people on a human level, acknowledging their feelings, and responding with compassion and empathy. Leaders who follow with emotion pay attention to the morale, values, and emotional needs of their team, fostering a nurturing and supportive environment. As I mentioned previously, this was the aspect I found to be the greatest struggle for me. My personality, by nature, is not sympathetic. I've had to learn how to appreciate the value of someone's emotional attachment to certain situations and recognize the positive and negative impact these emotions have on our ability to effectively overcome challenges.


Effective leadership often emerges from the synthesis of logic and emotion. A leader who can lead with logic and follow with emotion strikes a balance between rational decision-making and emotional empathy. They use logic to make sound, strategic decisions and employ emotional intelligence to implement these decisions in a way that is sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. This dual approach fosters respect and trust, as it combines the clarity and direction of logical leadership with the understanding and compassion of emotional insight. Such leaders are adept at navigating complex situations, making informed decisions, and maintaining strong, empathetic relationships with their team, ensuring a well-rounded and effective leadership style.


I've learned over the many years and hundreds of nurses I've worked with...most don't seek to get their way; most simply seek to know a standard of fairness exists. As leaders, when we "Lead with Logic, Follow with Emotion" we ensure we set a standard our team members can trust, and as such, we connect in a way they value. This is not just a guiding principle; it's a roadmap for effective leadership. By balancing logical decision-making with emotional intelligence, leaders can navigate the complex healthcare environment with both precision and compassion. Remember, great leadership is as much about understanding hearts as it is about understanding minds.

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