I know it’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been trying to recharge my batteries this summer after a fast-paced and very full year. I thought I’d jump back in by writing on something that usually isn’t a topic for leaders – love.
Leaders aren’t supposed to love their people. Or are they? Authentic leadership may indeed mean offering yourself to your people in order to enable them and empower them to bring their very best to the enterprise. That sure sounds like love to me.
Many have tried to defined love. To me, love is a capacity for mature mutuality between two people; it transcends childhood dependency. Love is a free choice to be connected to another person. We freely and intentionally choose to establish and maintain a connection with another person, sharing ourselves as completely as we can. This is real intimacy.
In an earlier posting I suggested that intimacy is the sharing of oneself with another person. This is what I’m referring to when I say that a strong sense of identity and loyalty to one’s values are crucial to our capacity for this leadership trait – love. Intimacy involves sharing one’s “Self.” If I don’t have a strong sense of who I am, how can I “share” myself with others in relationship? I can’t. That sets up a situation that invites dependency on another person rather than a mature mutuality.
Before we get all tangled up about my use of the word intimacy, let’s say that there is a difference between sharing personal aspects of our lives and private ones. If we are seeking to connect with others in order to lead them, we must be willing to share some things about ourselves that are personal. Something can be personal without being private. Indeed, responsible leaders know how to share personal aspects but not private things that others have no need or right to know. A willingness to be vulnerable has been found to be key to forming connections with others. When we are incapable of being vulnerable, of real intimacy we live isolated lives. It is hard to lead others from a place of isolation.
I think that love is an important leadership trait. Business occurs through relationships. Our capacity to love and be loved enables us to create and maintain a web of significant relationships. We all want to be loved. We all want to have someone to love. A desire and capacity to love is foundational to effective leadership.
• What must your life look like for you to say confidently that you are a loving person?
• Who do you love?
• How do they know that you love them?
• Who loves you?
• How do you acknowledge their love?
Love is one of those things you can’t talk about; you have to do it. To more deeply embody this leadership trait you need to get out there and love. Someone said it’s all you need.
Begin by taking some time to love yourself. If you haven’t already, set a regular time and place to create a retreat for yourself. Allow yourself some regenerative silence to attend to your life, imagine what your best life looks like, and move to make your best life a reality.
Pay attention to your most important relationships. Summer is a time of rest, regeneration, and renewal. Before your go head down into September, focus some attention and intention on being a person who loves and is loved. It will make you a better leader. I guarantee it.
Sam Keen wrote a wonderful book entitled To Love and Be Loved. I recommend it highly if you want to deeply explore this important leadership trait more thoroughly.
…And in the end the love we take is equal to the love we make.
Lennon and McCartney