“Leadership is about love.” I made this statement in an interview I once gave and was immediately asked, “What does love have to do with it?” (Sounds like a song, doesn’t it!) My response was simple: “Everything.” Love as a core value has everything to do with everything. My interviewer and I continued for the next hour talking about leaders who have chosen love as their core value and the difference they make in the lives of their followers.
It seems there are two challenges in connecting the words love and leadership. The first challenge is that the word “love” has been minimized, abused, and misused. The kind of love I am talking about brings life, energy, and creativity as we experience trust, grace, forgiveness, faithfulness, commitment, accountability, and service. This love is not soft and not easy. It gives grace yet holds those they who are loved accountable because love commits to taking people from where they are to where they could go. Love forgives and stands with you even when everything else falls. Leaders who lead from love create environments of trust and a culture of trusted relationships and creativity.
When we choose love as a core value, we are a different leader, spouse, parent, friend, neighbor and more. Love changes us. In fact, it is the greatest change agent of all time.
The second challenge is that the word “leader” is often misunderstood. I heard from a seminary president that many younger students do not want to study leadership or even be identified as a leader. Their experiences with “leaders” have tainted their view of what leaders look like and so much so that they want no part of it.
Frankly, I don’t remember aspiring to be a leader, but I did aspire to being like people who were leaders. I appreciated their direction and desire for me to achieve. I felt valued and even loved. I sensed from them that their motivation was for me to succeed, and they included me as part of the success of the organizations where I served. I realize now that this kind of leadership only comes from leaders who love themselves. They are not leading to prove anything to anyone nor are they motivated by adoration or power. The leaders I have known who lead in this way have everything they need for life and godliness, and they know it does not come from them but from God.
If our motivation comes from love and our intention is filled with love, our leadership will look a lot like Jesus. Read this passage and substitute your name every time you see the word “love” or “it. If you feel the statement is not quite true as you substituted your name, you will know what you need to work on to improve your leadership.
Love is patient, Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
PBA Lead Instructor