“Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.” – John C. Maxwell
Lieutenant Colonel Joe Ricciardi stood before his battalion of 1000 soldiers deployed with clearing roads of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan, and gave them one simple message: You need to love one another.
A nervous energy moved through the room. “I got a few funny stares, I saw a few smirks,” Ricciardi recalls. “But after reinforcing the concept I realized that they ‘got it’ – they understood.”
Drawing from research in psychology and other fields, Ricciardi defined love as “intimacy, passion, and commitment.” He goes on to say that the three factors of love – intimacy, passion, and commitment have a strong positive correlation to leadership, but, Ricciardi says, “Intimacy dwarfs them all.” (2)
Why is intimacy so important when it comes to leadership? Speaking from my own experience, I can say that I’m going to go the extra mile for a leader who’s taken the time to get to know me, and whose influence has added value to my life, by empowering me to go beyond what I formally thought I was not capable of.
Love-Driven Leaders Empower and Release Creativity
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
Like Lieutenant Colonel Joe Ricciardi, love-driven leaders are intentional in helping their people reach their potential. They inspire, energize, and empower them to be creative and to think freely. They exert a positive influence on their teams, who tend to be thorough when handling tasks, and innovative problem solvers.
Fear-Driven Leaders Impede and Curtail Creativity
On the other hand, fear-driven leaders tend to be self-centered, focusing more on their own success than that of their people. Instead of helping their people reach their potential, they’ll often use their position as a launching pad for promotion. All too often a fear-driven leader will boost their own self-esteem by dismantling yours.
Leading from Love
When I was in my forties, I made a quality decision to spend the rest of my life learning how to be a better love-driven leader each year, than I was the year before. This meant being intentionally relational with all people all the time. It’s challenging, but the benefits far outweigh the efforts.
Being a love-driven leader means to honor, protect, and empower those who work with you. That alone allows your team to work without fear of having their mistakes used against them. The positive energy generated by that philosophy is highly contagious.
Love-driven leadership is so effective that it breeds trust and respect unsolicited. How can you not trust and respect a leader who’s forgiving, inspiring, creative, humble, and empowering? Especially when you walk away encouraged every time they teach you something!
Research conducted by Skyline Group International Inc. discovered that many “employees prefer leaders who act with poise and authenticity, over those who command respect.” (3)
“Life’s most urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'” Martin Luther King Jr
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Dr. Myles Munroe, Mahatma Gandhi, and Mother Teresa are just a few examples of authentic love-driven leaders.
Why not follow their example?
- Take time to get to know your people, who are they? What are their dreams?
- Remember birthdays, anniversaries, family members (write them down).
- Genuinely care about them, the challenges they face, at home and at work.
- Train your people well, trust them to make important decisions.
- Genuinely appreciate them, affirm their value to you and the organization.
- Remind yourself, without your team you cannot accomplish your Dream.
(1) Featured Image by Conant Leadership https://conantleadership.com
(2) “Why Love is the First Leadership Skill You Should Develop” By Amber Johnson (corporate relations advisor for the Center for Values-Driven Leadership) https://goo.gl/Xad6Rw
(3) “Do Effective Leaders Use Fear or Love in the Workplace?” by Thuy Sindell and Milo Sindell, https://goo.gl/NVXmfb