Craig Groeschel Talks About the Importance of Emotions in Leadership

We’ve heard some incredible leadership talks over the past few days. From Bear Grylls who talked about never giving up to Liz Bohannon talking about the power of dreaming small, we’ve learned a lot of lessons and gained a lot of knowledge at The Global Leadership Summit.

But, in the closing session “Heart Over Head,” Pastor Craig Groeschel reminds us that to be an effective leader, you can’t just move heads—you also must move hearts.

Heart Over Head

In “Heart Over Head,” Pastor Craig makes the argument that knowledge alone is rarely enough to change behavior. Leaders need to lean in to emotion to bring about action.

But the trouble is, we don’t often think of emotions when we think about leadership. In fact, many leaders view emotion as a negative—thinking that the best leaders don’t let emotions interfere with business. Or, they view emotional leaders as weak leaders.

But, emotions are not only important. Emotions are the catalyst to change and growth.

“The fastest way to change someone’s mind is to connect with their heart.” 

Most leaders want to communicate information that leads to action. But, knowledge alone rarely leads to action. Knowledge leads to conclusions; emotion leads to action. The key to movement is in the emotion.

How to Harness Emotions


A marketing professor at Stanford asked students to do a one-minute pitch for a project. The professor found that 1 in 10 students used a story in their pitch. When students were asked to recall the pitches, only 5% could cite a statistic used in a pitch, but 63% could remember a story in detail.

Stories stick. Facts fade.

Why do stories work so well? When you’re talking to people, they’re processing what you say with one of two different systems in their brains: the emotional processor or the logical processor.

The logical processor is conscious and controlled—it takes more fuel and focus and is easily depleted. On the other hand, the emotional processor is automatic and unconscious, and it isn’t as easily depleted.

So, when you use a story to cast vision, inspire your team to take action, or lead your ministry, you connect the heart of the emotions to the strength of the logic, and you ignite a powerful action.


The words you choose determine the emotions people feel. 

Use strong words to convey emotion. 

  • Sad becomes Heart-wrenching
  • Hurts becomes Agonizing
  • Amazing becomes Remarkable

When you add emotions to your words, you move people from ideas in their heads to actions in their lives.


People may admire you for your strengths, but they connect with you through your weaknesses. Although this is true, that doesn’t mean we share everything with everyone.

Don’t feel pressure to know it all. Have the courage to be vulnerable. Be real because people would rather follow a leader who is real than one who is always right.

As a leader, ask yourself the following questions:

  • On a scale from 1 to 10, how comfortable am I with being more vulnerable? 
  • Where’s an area you’re trying to encourage people to take an action? How can you evoke emotion to spur action?

Find even more from Pastor Craig on “Heart Over Head” at—downloads bonus materials like a leader guide, discussion questions, and graphics.

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