You’re meant to be a loved leader, whether you’re a mother, boss, teacher, or older sibling. Your leadership is meant to bring out the best in everyone, not just in performance, but in spirit. But in the West, especially in business, leaders are often praised for being “fearless,” “in charge,” “commanding,” even “ruthless.”
So, how do we lead from a place of love, instead of dominance? We lead not like they are staff, but like they are our beloved children whose flaws we overlook and who we want to see reach maximum potential.
I believe this is how to lead with love:
Recognize strengths. Observe, even assess through personality tests, the key strengths of your staff. But take it further. Find ways that their strengths and talents can be expressed.
One leader I know rewarded his employee’s long-term loyalty by presenting to him a gift. The leader said to the employee, after work, “Please stay. I would like to speak with you.” Imagine the worried employee’s joy when he was presented with praise and a gift instead of reprimand.
Know that everyone has flaws, and accept those of your employees. Everyone will demonstrate traits we don’t particularly care to encounter. But the trick is to accept the flaws, overlook them, and focus on the person’s best.
I saw a voice over expert today who was teaching voice acting, but in my mind, only seemed to have one voice. I saw it as a flaw. But she’s the voice of Bart Simpson, so who was I to judge? Sometimes a perceived flaw can be an enormous strength. And her voice was very dynamic, but all I could hear was Bart. Even if the Little Pony sounds like Bart, it’s unbelievably amazing.
In other words, don’t judge an employee’s perceived flaws.
Help people acquire what is most important to them. Everyone has unique longings, passions, and goals. Help them acquire what they most desire. So, ramp up the synergy by tapping into your employees’ passions. Nothing feels better than encouraging another being’s dreams.
One fast food restaurant employee wanted to fund her daughter’s education by working two jobs. She did so with the hopes that her daughter would take care of her in her old age as payback. Although it’s best to expect nothing in return for a kind deed, had the employer offered to pay into an education investment plan, this woman would’ve been ecstatic. The company would’ve helped her achieve her goal.
Have measurable systems and supports in place. But if the measures don’t add up, don’t punish. Instead, train the employee rather than labeling them as incompetent.
A person who reports to me has had serious life stressor which affected his performance. So, I instituted measurements and systems in a CRM to help get him on track. If these don’t work, then empathy, patience, and workarounds play star roles.
Reframe thoughts the Pollyanna way. Reframe any negative as an opportunity. When you have a negative thought, stop, evaluate, and act with wisdom, says The Marriage Foundation. A book on leadership also holds a similar principle, but advises to forgive oneself for the negative thought, and then reframe it as a positive. (I can’t recall the book title.)
A long time ago, when A&A Records & Tapes was a household name, I had a staff member I managed. She would often say about me, in front of customers, “I want her job,” much to my embarrassment. So, I told her I’d be happy for her to claim my job once I reached a more senior role. And our synergy and hard work together would be the catalyst.
Help people succeed. Make employees look good, feel good, and achieve new heights. That should be everyone’s goals, not just a leader’s.
Everyone has got unlimited potential. Bring that potential to its most astounding heights, and you can bask in the glory of knowing you brought out their best. So, help people grow by being their biggest cheerleader.
One very charismatic leader I know would say, “Good job” to everybody, one by one every day during work. At the end of the work day he’d congratulate them all and say they all worked hard. He was a loved leader for good reason.
A loved leader treats all employees like beloved children. After all, we are all here to help each other find our way to the promised land, I believe, and love for one another is the only true path.