Love is a well-recognized theme in our lives. We use the word to express our affection for others, our enjoyment of good food, and our admiration for aesthetically pleasing objects. It is an overused term with vast meaning and contextual fluidity. It has even in recent years found its way into the professional workplace environment as a contemporary method of leadership that has been proven successful in countless organizations that embrace it.
Love works, fear fails.
This is the mantra of John Hope Bryant, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Operation HOPE. He authored the book “Love Leadership” which serves as a testament to a new style of leadership that he has been championing for over a decade. The latter portion “fear fails” describes leadership in the traditional sense: authoritative figures of whom employees obey out of fear. It is the form of leadership that is most caricaturized in media; picture fuming bosses and fear-stricken employees, who go to work in a drone-like state of mind to conduct unfulfilling tasks. In this type of environment, people can become stagnant and spiteful. If they are not treated with the respect and dignity that human beings should be met with, what motivation do they have to do a good job, much less stay?
Fear leadership may have worked for our grandparents’ generation, but people have changed. Studies show that millennials, and the younger workforce seek meaning and positive impact in their careers. Leading with love, also known as “love leadership” has become increasingly common in today’s day and age where talent acquisition and employee retention are held at high standards. And one of the most effective ways to lead with love is to show a little vulnerability.
Humans are not perfect. We live and learn, make mistakes, and should know our limits and when to ask for help. When a leader humanizes themselves to their team, they become relatable and instill a unique sense of inspiration that untouchable god-like bosses can’t.
If I can do it, you can do it too.
Leaders who can relate on the same level of their employees know that it has the potential to uplift and spark powerful motivation in their workforce. People tend to meet you where you are willing to meet them, and when you can be real with them and show your human side, your employees open-up as well and an authentic relationship develops. People will align with your values and support your decisions. And when people come to respect you both on a leadership and on a human level, work becomes personal in a positive way, and you tend to get the best out of them.
Such is the difference between making money and building real wealth. The more you give to your employees, the more you get out of them. When employees are given the proper environments to grow, thrive, and be met with transparency and realness, the potential for amazing productivity and creativity knows no limits.
Here are some values to stick by when practicing love leadership with your team.
Patience – always have self-control in difficult situations. Stay cool, calm, and collected. This is not to mean be patient with poor performance, it means to be patient with how you respond to it.
Kindness – listen to others, encourage them and show enthusiasm. Affirmation and support can go a long way.
Trust – place confidence in others and give them the space they need to succeed. Allow them to take ownership and take things to the next level.
Unselfishness – think of others more than you think of yourself. Put yourself in the mindset that you are serving your team, and that you want them to succeed. People love to follow leaders who are willing to elevate their staff and put their needs above theirs.
Truthfulness – being truthful can be tricky territory when accounting for conflict avoidance, but the honest feedback aimed at improving one’s performance is a strong sign of love leadership. It expands the path for success and puts people in the right direction, regardless of personal feelings.
Forgiveness – to revisit the humanity aspect of leading with love, know when people deserve a second chance. Maybe even a third, or a fourth. For as much time as we spend together at work, you only know a fraction of their story. By showing forgiveness, employees receive an increased sense of worthiness. If you were willing to give them another shot, then they are willing to not let you down.
Dedication – make a commitment to the company’s goals and support your team in getting there. Provide hope by communicating direction, providing necessary resources, and setting clear expectations.