Ryan Hartley on heart-centred leadership (#44)

When I started my first role as a manger the CEO at the time shared a message with all the manager: “as a manager you only have two jobs: develop your people and get results. And the way you get results is by developing your people.”

Leaders know that they get better results when the team performs better than the sum of its parts. When people are engaged. When people want to be there.

If you want to be the type of leader who brings the best out of people then this episode is for you.  In this episode we talk to Ryan Hartley about heart-centred leadership.

Ryan Hartley is the Chief Heart Officer at Always Better Than Yesterday where he helps leaders to leave a heartprint where those around them are left better than yesterday. Ryan has a perspective on leadership that resonates strongly with the type of leader I hope to be and I hope that it resonates with you too.

Ryan also hosts a wonderful podcast called Always Better Than Yesterday. Some of my favourite episodes are episode 116 with Matthew McConaughey, episode 112 with Dr Gary Chapman, author of the five love languages, and episode 48 with Corey Hartley, Ryan’s six year old son.

We hope you enjoy this heartfelt conversation with Ryan Hartley.

You can listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Simplecast.

Show Notes

2:05 – what drew Ryan to work at a call centre for the police.
4:28 – lessons from a emergency call centre.
6:45 – hire for character and social skills.
7:55 – de-escalating highly emotional situations.
10:17 – the hardest phone call Ryan ever took.
12:02 – importance of self-care in high stress jobs.
16:06 – managing your own emotions in high stress situations.
18:34 – the importance of being calm as the leader.
19:45 – leadership is an act, not a title.
21:18 – everyone has a purpose.
26:25 – candid conversations are not an excuse for being blunt and harsh.
27:01 – mindset, skillset and heartset.
31:09 – how Ryan developed a servant-leadership approach in a status-driven environment.
33:03 – a leader’s job is to be a greenhouse.
35:01 – the importance of team identity.
39:32 – the culture deck from the founder of Netflix.
41:07 – leading with your heart is hard but worth it.
45:04 – feedforward instead of feedback.
45:34 – love tough.
49:02 – attachment theory applied to leadership.
49:55 – it’s more important to be relational than to be right.
53:38 – the importance of courage in leadership.
54:44 – coming to the world from love, not for love.
57:43 – how Ryan’s marriage survived a rough patch.
1:02:36 – what lessons did marriage troubles teach Ryan.
1:04:21 – self-defence mechanism to rejection.
1:05:35 – everyone deserves to be loved.
1:08:21 – what does “always better than yesterday” mean to Ryan.
1:10:24 – leaving a heartprint.
1:12:07 – the ripple effect of leadership.
1:13:09 – get in touch with Ryan Hartley.

Links to References

Always Better than Yesterday with Ryan Hartley | A Podcast for Heart Centred Leaders 

Betari Box  

Penguins of Madagascar 

Locard’s Exchange Principle 

Netflix Culture Deck – Reed Hastings 


The Advantage  –  Patrick Lencioni 

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team –  Patrick Lencioni 

Hold Onto Your Kids by Dr. Gabor Mate 

Key Quotes 

“It’s a real honour to be able to help people in their time of crisis.” 

“Communication is not a one way street”. 

“Understand what the moment needs and not what your agenda needs.” 

“Empathy is a better way of going rather than information documentation.” 

“Recruitment changed after 13 years to ….recruiting character, empathy and problem solving.” 

“The most valuable thing police can be is safety and certainty…. Bring calm in the chaos.”

“When under pressure we can lose the ability to think clearly.” 

“You can’t save everybody.”

“You can’t give what you have not got.” 

“I’d ride the waves of adrenaline and then be no good for anyone.” 

“When I had the Peak of my adrenaline… I felt like Rainman… I could do anything.” 

“There is something intuitive about not rushing… if we rush into things we lose our situational awareness.” 

“Breath…taking a moment to centre… calm heart rate.” 

“Leadership is as easy as ABC… Authentic, Brave, Calm.” 

“Leadership is an act, not a position or title.”

“[Leadership] is an act of putting our needs to one side and focus on serving others.” 

“We are the only species on this planet who can go the grave without reaching our potential.”  

“Every leader has something they are passionate about and talented with.” 

“Let’s speak life and truth into people.” 

“The heart of leadership is service and not position and title.” 

“Food for your heart, your mind and your soul.” 

“The heartwork is our character, vision and purpose. Leaders need to come to the world from this.” 

“Too many people live from the outside in.”

“When you become a manager, people bring to you their life issues.”

“My job was to create an environment in which people can do their best work.” 

“I have to communicate clearly so people know what I want.” 

“We are a team, we have the ability to make a difference to each other.”

“Whatever happens at work I want my people to go home better for their family.” 

“You don’t have to prove anything, your position is unconditional and knowing that, I have the right to challenge you.”

“Love meets your where you are and will leave you a little bit better.”

“Life is a beautiful dance of paradox…Love meets you where you are but doesn’t settle for anything but your best.”

“Parenting is the greatest form of leadership.”

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

“It’s more important to be relational than it is to be right.”

“As a leader we should not forget our beachball.” – Paul McGee  

“It is a lifelong self awareness journey.”

“The more we give to ourselves the more we can come to the world as an expression of love rather than for it.”

“It’s not until I had a heart-centred experience that I learned what it means to have faith.”

“Never take family and their time for granted.”

“When you look for the good you find it, when you look for the bad you find it.”

“I believe life is meant to be lived in a state of love.”

“All the things I have learned through the Bible and scientifically point to a similar truth that love is the most powerful source.”

“When we are in states of love we emit bio photons which is the measurement of light”. 

“I find peace in that, If I do more of what I love for the benefit of those who need it, it is a ripple effect…..Take a zoom out and look at the ripple effect of your leadership.”

About the author

Divan and Mark are co-hosts of the Candour Communication Podcast where we discuss interpersonal communication and all the human stuff that gets in the way.