Leadership of the Heart, Head and Hands

John Nicholls (1994) proposed that leadership skills be considered from the basis of inspirational leadership (the heart), strategic leadership (the head), and supervisory leadership (of the hands). In all three cases, leadership is about the effect of the leader on people, individually or collectively, in relation to their environment.

Nicholls (1994) also suggested that Transforming leaders inspire people without using coercive power and authority – they are enablers who "engage" with people, giving them "headroom" to perform. By applying inspiration of the heart to their strategic leadership of the head, managers become visionary enablers.  By applying inspiration of the heart to their supervisory leadership of the hands managers become coaching enablers. 

Blanchard and Hodges (2003) developed these ideas into an examination of the leader’s character, the leader’s assumptions and methods, and the leader’s behaviours. They proposed that consistent attention in these three areas would result in a leader who was committed to a “daily recalibration of commitment to vision”. By integrating 5 spiritual disciplines into one’s life, a leader matures through (a) solititude, (b) prayer, (c) storing up God’s word, (d) faith in God’s unconditional love, and (e) intentional involvement in accountability relationships.


Blanchard, K., & Hodges, P. (2003). The Servant Leader. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

Nicholls, J. (1994). The “Heart, Head and Hands” of Transforming Leadership. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 15 ( 6), 8-15