As the old saying goes… I wish I had a dollar for every person who told me – “You can’t say LOVE in a business setting.” Yet, I am determined to help leaders see that the words “leadership” and “love” DO belong in the same sentence. In fact, they are fundamental to the strongest leadership strategy in the world.
I’ve actually gotten some interesting responses from people when I say love. At a networking event, I once told a gentleman that I teach leaders to lead with love. He looked at me for a moment and then confided – “Where I work, you can get fired for that.” I laughed and replied – “Well then, I’d say you are either doing it wrong, or you work for the wrong company.”
The problem is that too often we have come to equate the word love with sex or the sometimes inappropriate office romance. I realized quickly that if I was going to use “that word”, then I had better be able to offer up a safe and acceptable definition. I actually found 14 different definitions online at Dictionary.com – ranging from sex to tennis scores. Most of them were not helpful, but here were my favorites –
*A feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, a child, or a friend,
*Affectionate concern for the well-being of others, as in love thy neighbor, and
*A strong enthusiasm or liking for anything, as in I love pizza.
It is sad, but not surprising, that most leaders feel more comfortable saying “I love pizza” than they do saying “I love my team.” I’m not suggesting for a minute that you should run around to your team members with outstretched arms like the crazy guy in the old Budweiser commercial yelling – “I love you man!” I’m pretty hard core loving and even I might find that creepy or inappropriate. I have, however, often said it to a team of people – “I love you guys. You totally rock!”
If even that makes you uncomfortable, I have some good news! Using the word love is not as important as understanding the concept. Love in a leader is an unconditional high positive regard for an individual or group of individuals, resulting in actions which make them feel supported and appreciated. Love is kind of like quality. It is often hard to define, but people know it when they see it. One thing I know for sure is that if you love your employees, they will love you back – and when they do, they will walk on hot coals to support you! And here is a bonus – Teams that are led with love also become teams that share love and work well together. Imagine that… it’s contagious!
In upcoming newsletters we are going to discuss some of the techniques and the challenges to leading with love. Ideas to shift you from being a good leader to being a great leader! In the mean time, I would love to have you join the discussion with me on FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/LeadershipAndLove