Leaders, what is your passion? What do you love about your leadership? Do you love the people that you are leading?
You may be wondering why I used the words leaders, leadership and love? It may sound weird to you or even paradoxical to associate the word love with leadership. But after recently reading four influential books, I am convinced that leading with love is not so far-fetched after all.
Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly and Rising Strong, Simon Sinek’s Leaders Eat Last, and Stephen M.R. Covey’s The Speed of Trust may not explicitly state that you need to lead people with love. However, they do describe exceptional leaders as leaders who are caring, authentic, vulnerable, empathetic and trustworthy. And these leaders have the uncanny ability to create cultures and environments where these attributes are intentionally and purposefully practiced. Cultures where people feel safe, and where people feel they belong. These leaders are selfless, and they put the needs of those whom they lead before their own. To me, these words describe loving leadership.
It should be the goal of leadership to set a culture free of danger from each other. And the way to do that is by giving people a sense of belonging. By offering them a strong culture based on a clear set of human values and beliefs. By giving them the power to make decisions. By offering trust and empathy. Simon Sinek, Leaders Eat Last
It is not common though to associate a leader as someone who leads with love, heart, empathy and caring. Leaders generally avoid using such words in describing leadership in this way. They, including myself, typically fear the many detractors who criticize these types of leaders as ‘soft’ leaders. These detractors describe these leaders as ones who are not severe enough, are taken advantage of and worry too much about pleasing people rather than the bottom line. I have personally had some of these detractors let me know I was one of those leaders. And it hurt.
But thanks to leaders like Sinek, Brown and Covey, things are changing. The loving, caring leader who values and affirms his or her followers, and who creates cultures of treating people like they would their family members, is being recognized as an effective leader worthy of being trusted and followed.
Frankly, after reading these books, I now won’t worry about being labelled as a ‘soft’ leader. These influential leaders have affirmed what I have believed. I have tried to demonstrate these attributes in the organizations that I have led.
Through many successes and just as many missteps, I have learned that leadership is about the heart, it is about caring, and it is about love. After reflecting upon many personal leadership trials, I realized that when I put the needs and concerns of the people I led before my own needs, my leadership was at its most effective.
My leadership beats for being an empathetic, caring and supportive leader, and even though that may be uncomfortable and I may continue to hear from detractors, I choose to be a leader who loves to lead and loves those whom he leads.