February 14, 2011 3 Comments
We often think and talk about leadership in terms of characteristics, skills, behaviors, and traits (both innate and cultivated). And that is a major part of leadership (want a list of 50 traits to work on? Here you go!)
The best leader is seeking the greater good. The best leader puts others first. That’s not a matter of mushy Hallmark sentimentalism, or unrealistic romanticism. But it is, at core, an expression of love.
Leadership – true and enduring leadership – is an act of love.
I would argue that passivity, and drifting with the tide, is an outgrowth of nothing other than selfishness or fear. Taking a situation in hand and helping others reach higher and accomplish more is a risk. It’s hard. It’s pro-active self-denial, and it sometimes requires what has come to be called “tough love.”
It’s giving of yourself, and that is the essence of love, is it not?
I love my children. It is my responsibility to lead them, however imperfectly (I’ve got a looooong way to go on that list of 50 traits!). And that has meant, at times, some very non-sentimental moments and extended periods of agony of heart. Even when the older ones were given a timeline and a blueprint for their future departure from the nest, they always knew I was heart-committed to them, and that I wanted them to become the best that they could be.
Now, a family is not equivalent to a business, and sons are not the same as employees. But leadership is leadership. A mere functionary who exercises authority from an assigned position of leadership may hope for some level of compliance. People may “follow” for a season.
But a leader-from-the-heart gains a following that goes beyond external compliance. We want to follow, not simply because we see an admirable example, but we feel a genuine commitment to us and respond to it. And I’m not sure any further words on my part can do this justice, because it’s “better felt than tell’t!”
We’re going to be talking about Leadership and Love this week during our weekly Tuesday night #LeadershipChat discussion on Twitter (8 pm ET). Please join us; and before you do, I recommend you also read the perspectives of my co-moderator Lisa Petrilli (Three Truths about Leading with Love) in preparation.