Lead with Love

The conclusion of Kouzes and Posner’s The Leadership Challenge has stuck with me for years. The authors quote one of the exemplary leaders from their research, who said, “The secret to success is to stay in love. Staying in love gives you the fire to ignite other people, to see inside other people, to have a greater desire to get things done …” Kouzes and Posner acknowledge, “’Staying in love’ isn’t the answer we expected to get” in their extensive research on leadership. Then they conclude: It finally dawned on us how many leaders used the word love freely when talking about their own motivations to lead. Of all the things that sustain a leader over time, love is the most lasting. It’s hard to imagine getting up day after day, putting in the long hours and hard work it takes to get extraordinary things done, without having their hearts in it. … Leadership is not an affair of the head. Leadership is an affair of the heart.

Let me suggest three ways that you can let this challenge your leadership:

  • Love your staff. It’s tragic if those who work for you don’t feel loved by their Christian Love is at the center of the gospel. Sure, those staff members aren’t perfect. They make mistakes. So do you. No matter what challenges you face, they need to know that you love them.
  • Celebrate the ways that God has blessed your organization. Another frequent leadership mistake is the failure to celebrate. Celebrations should give credit to God and demonstrate how much we love the work that God has called us to do. In your rush to achieve the next strategic milestone, don’t forget to be thankful for your past successes.
  • Reflect on the depth of your love. If love is the secret to leadership success, then make the time during your summer vacation to think about whether you love your leadership role. Do you love the people, the mission, and your unique role? If leading is more of a burden than a passion, then it may be time to work on a transition strategy.

I hope your summer will be filled with love, and I hope that it will overflow into every aspect of your leadership.