In the ever-evolving landscape of leadership, we often find ourselves navigating complex challenges, balancing vulnerability with strength, and seeking authenticity.

Enter the powerful mantra: “Soft Front, Strong Back, Wild Heart.” This phrase, coming originally from Joan Halifax and used by Brené Brown, Jerry Colonna, and others,  encapsulates profound wisdom for leaders who aspire to lead with integrity and depth.

The Metaphor Unveiled

Here’s our take on each component as it applies to the leader’s journey:

Soft Front: Imagine a leader with an open heart—a heart that listens, empathises, and connects. A soft front embodies vulnerability, compassion, and emotional intelligence. It’s about shedding the armour, allowing ourselves to be seen, and acknowledging our humanity. Softness doesn’t imply weakness; rather, it signifies a capacity to connect authentically.

Strong Back: Picture a leader with a sturdy spine—a backbone that stands firm in the face of adversity. A strong back represents resilience, assertiveness, and unwavering principles. It’s the ability to hold boundaries, make tough decisions, and advocate for what’s right. Strength doesn’t mean rigidity; it’s about groundedness and integrity.

Wild Heart: Envision a leader with a passionate heart—a heart that beats to its own rhythm. A wild heart embodies authenticity, curiosity, and creativity. It’s about daring to dream, taking risks, and innovating. Wildness doesn’t equate to recklessness; it’s about leading courageously.

The Dance of Leadership

Leadership is akin to a dance—a delicate balance between these three elements:

  • Soft Front: As leaders, we must cultivate empathy, active listening, and vulnerability. When we soften our fronts, we create spaces where trust can flourish. We admit mistakes, seek feedback, and honour others’ experiences.


  • Strong Back: Our strong backs allow us to set boundaries, say “no” when necessary, and hold ourselves accountable. It’s the backbone that supports our *values and adherence to our intent, our *North Star as leaders. Without it, we risk losing our authenticity.

*Read more on values here and connecting with your North Star here:

  • Wild Heart: Leaders need a touch of wildness—a willingness to explore uncharted territories, challenge norms, and ignite passion. A wild heart fuels innovation, resilience, and the courage to lead beyond the status quo.


Softness without strength lacks impact. A vulnerable leader who doesn’t stand up for what matters is incomplete. Authenticity lies in the harmonious blend of softness and strength. A wild heart requires courage—the courage to question, experiment, and embrace discomfort. It’s the audacity to lead with heart, even when it feels risky.

Regular *balcony moments (as described by Robert Kegan) and reflection allow us to step back, observe patterns, and adjust our dance. Self-awareness fuels our journey toward embodying this mantra.

*Read more about getting on the balcony here.

Practical Steps for Nurturing your Soft Front, Strong Back and Wild Heart

  • Practice Vulnerability: Listen deeply, share your stories, and truly connect by showing your humanity without fear of judgment.
  • Set Clear Boundaries: Say “yes” and “no” intentionally. Your strong back protects your soft front.
  • Embrace Curiosity: Let your wild heart explore new ideas, collaborate across boundaries, and infuse creativity into your leadership.

Remember, leadership does not require perfection; we suggest focus on connection and growth – for yourself and those around you.

So, stand tall, dance with authenticity, and let your wild heart embrace the discomforts and adventures that our complex world presents aplenty.

While we didn’t come up with this mantra ‘Soft Front, Strong Back, Wild Heart’, we could have! We create the safe space for exploring your values, and defining and grounding yourself in your North Star /Leadership Intention, and facilitate you in getting on the balcony through our Executive Coaching and in our Leadership Programmes.

If you sense there’s new levels of thinking you can explore, if you desire to elevate your leadership and magnify your impact, and soar, then we invite you to reach out to us at and discover how our ELEVATE coaching or our SOAR Leadership Programme can empower and support you as you embark on a journey of growth, fulfilment, and transformation. We’ll be delighted to help you.