Developing A Heart Of Butter & A Back Of Steel - Proteus Leadership
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Developing A Heart Of Butter & A Back Of Steel

One of the great challenges of leadership today is, on the one hand wanting to support and build the team around you, while on the other hand, having the insight and the ability to deal with conflict and stand up to those who would try to stop progress and bring disunity.

It truly is a sensitive balancing act!
Unfortunately, in the process, many leaders who commenced their journey with excitement and enthusiasm have become jaded, cynical and exhausted and now go about their daily activities in a passionless way.

However, there are others who have mastered the art of leadership and recognise that being a leader is indeed a privilege that can only be fully appreciated by both caring about yourself and others and by standing up for the things you believe in.

Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Anytime you step out of your comfort zone you will have those who support you and those who discourage you. The rule is – listen to the people who support you!

We live in the age of technology, where the art of communication and the desire to care and support those around us is rapidly disappearing. The age of entitlement is overpowering the efforts of leaders to take risks and to mentor and also to pour their experiences back into other people.

The truth is, that as hard as it may have become, people are more in need of our care and support than they have ever been before. So, we need to find ways to balance the attacks on our endeavors and still be able to demonstrate care and compassion.

Understanding Compassion?

Whenever we mention the word compassion, it is often confused with the term, ‘to feel sorry for’ or ‘to pity’. True compassion has nothing to do with those terms, it is all about doing whatever you can to help people in their time of need, but also to teach and support them in learning how they can overcome these issues themselves.

Compassion is also about being honest!

If we do not highlight things that people are doing wrong, then they never learn and simply repeat the same mistakes and behaviours over and over again. There is no point just patting a person on the head and telling them that things will be OK. Compassion gives that assurance, but it is supported by the truth and accompanied by strategies to make the necessary changes, so that the situation is not repeated.

Developing A Back Of Steel

Just as we need to exercise compassion for others, we also need to do it for ourselves. This will often mean that we need to toughen up.

Have you ever noticed that every time you step out and do something that you are proud of, there is always someone around the corner who wants to pull you down?

Run a leadership company and you will see what I mean!

So, we need to protect ourselves from the people who only have their own interests at heart by developing a back of steel. Because they only win if we indulge their behaviour and take on board their toxic comments.

Focus on your plan and don’t be side tracked by negative disruptions. Process what people say and then file it where it belongs. Make change or put it in the bin!

Choose Your Critics

This doesn’t mean that we don’t listen to people or take on board their opinions, quite the opposite. What it does mean is that we have to choose our critics. People who understand what we are trying to achieve and who support us, but will still be honest enough to give us balanced feedback. These are the only people that you should listen to when making major decisions in life.

The reason we protect our back is because most people that attack you will attack from behind. We have seen this demonstrated in this new and exciting age of social media, where attacking someone anonymously is a very easy thing to do.

Protect yourself. This type of criticism simply does not count. Delete and move on!

So, do not let your dreams and your passion be destroyed by people and comments that just don’t matter!

Developing A Heart of Butter

People who have developed a heart of butter have a softness about them. It does not mean that they are weak. It just means that they just think the best until someone or something makes them think otherwise. In other words, they start with the heart and then move to the head.

Caring for people is not about doing everything for them or being passive, it is about truly helping them to find the answer that they need in a particular situation.

Put Things Into Perspective

When we are learning to develop a heart of butter and a back of steel, we must first address why we allow people and their comments to upset us so much.

Maybe we are an easy target, maybe we blow things out of proportion, maybe we need to work on our own self esteem, whatever the reason, the best thing we can do is make sure we put things into perspective.

In other words, how important is what they say in the big picture, or are they just five minutes of your life.

So STOP! Look at the good you are doing and the things that you are achieving because there will be many more of those than the things you are doing wrong.

People only do what they do because we let them – so put things into perspective and take on board the things that make you better.

Let Your Heart Rule

Leadership is not about showing how tough you can be, or continually trying to teach people lessons, it is about believing in yourself, it is about building and supporting those around you and about standing firm on what you believe.

But above all, it is about leading with the heart and caring enough to help people to be better, happier and more productive.

So whatever you need to do, take the necessary steps required to develop your leadership heart of butter and back of steel.


Des penny


Proteus Leadership is one of Australia’s premier leadership training and development companies. Proteus Leadership provides leadership courses and management training to a range of industries and assists organisations to build positive workplace cultures, implement change and Create Great Leaders. Proteus also facilitates a range of world-class management courses, workshops, conferences and events across Australia and beyond with the sole purpose of bringing leaders together to connect and grow.

“Our core purpose is to Create Great Leaders that will in turn build Great companies and develop Great teams.”

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