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The Heart Of The Matter

Updated: Feb 20, 2023

People walk away with hearts full… because they’ve been seen, heard and valued.

And at the end of the day, matters of the heart are what really matter… in business and in life.

On a typical day, in any given office environment raucous laughter is hardly the norm. And even though intellectually we know the benefits of a good belly laugh we tend to shy away from it in that setting. Work is serious business. We don’t want to be disruptive. Frequent laughter might even be viewed by some as contributing to an atmosphere that is unfocused and unproductive.

Conversely, tears are also relegated to after hours or behind closed doors. Open displays of tear-producing emotions might make others uncomfortable. And no one wants to be labeled as “overly dramatic” or “super-sensitive.” So, the name of the game in most offices is keep a stiff upper lip and never let them see you sweat.

I find it fascinating that as adult humans, (created and designed to both laugh and cry as a way of expressing our humanness), most master the art of suppressing those emotions, or at least limiting them, to appropriate audiences and situations. That reality is one of the reasons that I love facilitating The Leadership Game.

It produces both laughter and tears in its participants, regardless of: the size of the group, corporate or not-for-profit, male or female. Yes, you read that right. Normal, otherwise reserved and under control adults both female and male have laughed out loud and shed tears while playing a game. The first time it happened, I have to admit, I was a bit surprised.


I know that all I need to do is…. wait for it.

The laughter and tears will come.

One unanimous burst of laugher happened when a team member plopped the “silent card” in front of the CEO; curtailing his talking for the next three minutes. The spirit in which it was played and received spoke volumes about the level of trust existing on that team. Not surprisingly, there were multiple moments of open, honest sharing in that two-hour experience.

During another game tears flowed when a young woman shared her deep appreciation for the man who serves as her CEO and how he had been instrumental in her stepping up to “go for” her current position because of his belief in and encouragement of her. The male CEO also got choked up, right there in front of his entire staff of 18 people. It was a priceless moment that everyone allowed to unfold without any shuffling of feet or clearing of throats; truly an honor to witness. And another encouraging example of how vulnerability as a leader creates credibility with a team.

So, what is it exactly that moves people to publicly display emotions that are typically reserved for home and family?

The answer to that is the other reason I love facilitating The Leadership Game; its questions.

In John Maxwell’s best-selling book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth he states,

“There’s something about the power of a well-worded question that often penetrates to the heart of the matter and triggers new ideas and insights.”

To that I would add…and matters of the heart trigger emotions.

It’s no surprise to me that John Maxwell’s belief in the power of questions spurred him to write Good Leaders Ask Great Questions, a book that challenges its readers to consider how questions can change lives.

In fact, I use this statement from that book every time I facilitate The Leadership Game: Questions lead to thinking and discussion. The process is often more valuable than the answer.

Playing through the penetrating questions in this game has caused responses like:

  • I’ve learned more about my co-workers in these two hours than I have in years of working with them.

  • If we take the time to converse with others about their experiences we can learn how to improve ourselves.

  • I wish we could show value for each other more often.

The brilliance of using a game format to expose the elephants in the room in an organization or team by promoting open, honest sharing from everyone at the table is undeniable. And as the all-important “What do you think?” and “What am I missing?” type questions are addressed… an organizational health check is underway.

It really is very similar to a wellness check up with your doctor. You may feel fine going in… but seeing the numbers from the lab reports gives you a much clearer picture of your actual state of fitness. At that point the choice is yours; ignore it or address it. Playing The Leadership Game gives a group of individuals that same choice for their business, through a fun, emotion-producing experience.

Best of all?

People walk away with hearts full… because they’ve been seen, heard and valued.

And at the end of the day, matters of the heart are what really matter… in business and in life.

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