by Dr. Roy E. Alston
Typically, we do not think about leadership and love in the same context. According to the American College Heritage Dictionary, love is a feeling of intense desire and attraction toward a person. In philosophical context, love is a virtue (a value in practice) representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection. Many of us have a much narrower view of what love is. For many the word love conjures up images of romantic and sexual pleasures, of intimacy and friendships, and of images consistent with romance novels and love stories. These misconceptions of what love really is prevents many from putting love and leadership in the same sentence.
Leadership is the process of modeling personal values while influencing and energizing people to embrace change, by providing purpose, vision, direction, motivation while operating to accomplish the mission (goals) and improving the organization. I cannot begin to list the many definitions that exist for the word leadership. Possibly this is a part of the confusion associated with the true essence of what leadership is and what impact leadership should have on human potential. What I challenge people to do is recognize that leadership is in essence composed of higher order human values in practice, or a virtue, like love. In order to lead people, you must LOVE people.
L – Letting Go. As leaders, we must let go of our preconceived notions of human relationships, groups of people, any and all our differences and let people thrive based on their unique talents, passions, and gifts.
O – Opening yourself up. As leaders, we must allow everyone to know who we are, what we stand for, how we operate, what our expectations are of others, what others can expect from us, and most importantly, provide a way for others to give us their honest feedback.
V – Valuing every relationship. As leaders, we tend to forget that the people in our organizations are just that, people. As leaders we should value our relationships with people by placing a premium on the time we spend with our people helping them to fulfill their hopes, their dreams, and their desires.
E – Embracing the human being in every person. Leaders must embrace the human being in every person by finding out what an individual's motivations are. When we find out what a person's motivations are and work with that person's motivations we are embracing the human being in that person.
When we understand what they truly are, we understand that love and leadership are both virtues. Highly successful people are successful because their leaders LOVE them. Can you LOVE your people?
Roy E. Alston is a visionary leadership consultant, strategist, and public servant who also teaches Organizational Leadership at Mountain State University. Alston holds a Ph.D. in Applied Management and Decision Sciences with a specialization in Leadership and Organizational Change from Walden University.