There’s More to Life than Logic
Elite, logical brainpower. Some believe that’s all that is needed to successfully solve problems.
Critical thinking does play a central role in getting to good answers. Without a logical and disciplined process to actively “conceptualize, apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate” what we plan to do, biases and privilege can unconsciously and negatively influence decisions and shape outcomes.
While logic and reason are good, they aren’t enough. Especially if leaders want inclusive decisions that engage, inspire, and motivate. Achieving that kind of outcome requires both logic and emotion, results and relationships, head and heart.
"A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination."
~Nelson Mandela, political leader
I’m a Star Trek fan. IMO, one of the franchise’s most dastardly antagonists is The Borg, a logic-driven collective of cyborgs. The Borg conquers and assimilates other beings and cultures into their single mind approach, saying “resistance is futile.”
The last two corporate mergers to which I was a party were soulless, heartless assimilations. In private conversations, describing the acquiring companies as "The Borg" was commonplace as the history and traditions of the companies being purchased were routinely and dispassionately discarded.
Mergers are complicated. Processing them via assimilation is a logical, efficient, and cost-effective way to resolve the issues involved in bringing two organizations together.
In the last two mergers I experienced, the elite brainpower involved in establishing the acquisition process was evident everywhere. A form, a procedure, and an answer existed for everything. Alternate opinions, perspectives, and especially feelings were a nuisance.
The price of discarding emotion and engagement in favor of logic was costly, however. Amongst those who were acquired, voluntary turnover was high. The phrase “I love working here” ceased to be spoken. Acquired employees became drones who did what they were told to do. If they didn’t, they were evaluated as not being team players. Heart-breaking. There’s no joy in being assimilated into the collective mind, no matter how logical and cost effective it is.
The absence of inclusive both/and thinking was everywhere in those two mergers. Logic ruled. Emotion and kindness were ignored, even criticized, described as weakness.
"Gifted leadership occurs when heart and head—feeling and thought—meet.
These are the two winds that allow a leader to soar."
~Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author
I couldn’t be a willing participant to the absence of heart in the workplace. My commitment to both logic and emotion didn’t endear me to many of the big shots at the acquiring company. At first, I hated being on the outs with the big bosses. Having the approval of my superiors had always been important to me. But securing that approval meant paying too big a personal price. I’m not good at being a drone who goes along to get along.
To meet the promise of diversity of thought, opinion, perspective, and experience, workplaces must appreciate both logic and emotion. For results and relationship to flourish, there must be literal and figurative room for heart. For caring. For inviting—and listening to—difference. For thinking about more than only the bottom line.
Maintaining a focus on head and heart requires resisting norms, both spoken and not, that tout only the value of logic and fitting in.
"To the wrongs that need resistance, to the right that needs assistance,
to the future in the distance, give yourselves."
~Carrie Chapman Catt, suffragist and peace activist
Resistance isn’t futile. It’s necessary.
Going against the flow won’t get you invited to get-togethers with the poohbahs, but it lets you sleep at night. And it keeps the poohbahs on notice that there’s more than one way, one perspective, one answer.