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“The first job of leadership is to love people.
Leadership without love is manipulation.” -Rick Warren
Some of you may have noticed I have not posted new blogs on my personal website quite as often over the past few months. The reason? Well, to be perfectly honest, as I become increasingly busy in my new role as a Senior Leadership Consultant with GiANT Worldwide, I am trying to find that balance between work and family – something I am not always good at. So with that, some things, even things I love, like writing on my personal blog, have had to take on a slower pace.
Today though, taking a quick break from work – and choosing to let things around the house wait a few more minutes (I mean, I will have to re-do everything again tomorrow anyways!),
I wanted to share about something I have found particularly interesting over the past few months and I think you will too.
As a bit of backstory, one of the first things that first stood out to me about GiANT Worldwide is that one of their core values as an organization is “love” – not exactly something you hear everyday in the business world. I found it refreshing that a company would be so bold as to recognize the need for love, even in the workplace, and actually live it out within their own organizational culture.
As I have now had the opportunity over the past few months to participate in training events and sit down with business professionals in various roles, this crazy idea of love in the workplace has come up numerous times. Needless to say, I have found the reactions varied and interesting. While many share my perspective and find it much needed but greatly lacking, not surprisingly, some have referred to the idea of leaders actually loving their followers as, “Soft,” “Squishy,” and even, “A four-letter-word” in some organizations.
Apparently leaders actually showing love for their followers is sadly rare.
Why? I believe it is because the concept is largely misunderstood. To some extent, I would suggest there are many leaders who simply do not know what it looks like to love those they lead, or who have never considered that this is what great leadership is actually all about. You see, leadership is not just about getting a job done, it is about how you get the job done, and how you impact others along the way.
So what does it look like for leaders to love their followers?
It means a leader looks out for, and even fights for the highest possible good of those they lead. Not exactly soft or squishy. One of the ways we do this is by asking what our followers need from us. Do they need more support (encouragement and help), or more challenge (clear expectations) in order for them to reach the next level, whatever that may be. The idea is that as leaders we raise our followers up to reach their fullest potential and we do this through love.
Let me ask, what would it look like in your organization if leaders truly loved their followers?
If leaders looked out for – and even fought for – the highest possible good of others? How would it impact your employee engagement, retention, and thus your bottom line? Would you want to work for a leader who would do that for you? I would – and now I do. It is hard to describe what it is like being a part of an organization where people are truly for you, where they look out for your highest possible good, where they fight for your highest possible good, where they actually…well, love you.
For those of you thinking this may not apply because you do not technically fill a “leadership role” within your organization, let me assure you that in some context we are all leaders. Leadership is about influence, and we all have influence in specific areas and over certain people. With ourselves, families, teams, organizations, and within our communities. So this concept of love in terms of fighting for another’s highest possible good can be brought into your relationships in all contexts; with your spouse, children, extended family, friendships, co-workers, etc. What would it look like for you to fight for the highest possible good of others in your areas of influence?
So for all of you leaders – yes, that includes you,
I would challenge you to fight for the highest possible good of those whom you have been entrusted to lead. You would be amazed at what can happen when you decide love is not something soft and squishy to be avoided, but rather a value to be upheld.
If you want to be a leader worth following, love those you lead.
How can you show love to those you lead today?