What’s Love Got To Do With It?
For Leaders, Everything.

In 2008, in The Globe and Mail Report on Business, I wrote about a book that changed the way I view leaders. It was called Love Leadership. Oxymoron, right?

Not so much, Since this pandemic hit, I’ve been thinking about the way leaders around the world are behaving and some of it looks a lot like love.

We equate the L Word with family relationships, where we tend to prioritize caring over money. Of course, without focus on the bottom line, we’ve got nothing to lead. But heart and profit are not mutually exclusive. Great leaders—love leaders—care deeply about how they lead organizations to success. And during COVID-19, there’s been a whole lotta love:

  • Landlords are waiving rent so people aren’t homeless
  • CEOs are pivoting to manufacture and donate key products 
  • Leaders are self-reflecting in public forums
  • Governments are supporting people out of work

Here are 8 attributes of a Love Leader. If you are inspired by this list or see yourself or your boss, congratulations. We could all use more love in the world of work, so let’s hope it’s here to stay.

THE 8 ATTRIBUTES OF A LOVE LEADER

AUTHENTICITY

Be who you are. Choose your words with care, but do express your view, even if you risk conflict or confrontation. Your team needs to know who you are and what you stand for. Honest interaction opens the door to more meaningful dialogue, and creates clarity in discussions and decision-making.

VULNERABILITY

Leaders who live by the motto “Never let them see you sweat” equate vulnerability with weakness. Love leaders consider it a strength that proves they are human, fallible, and relatable. Surprise: When you reveal your vulnerabilities, you give others the ability to enrich you and your leadership. As in high-level sports, once you show your weaknesses, your teammates will know how, when and where to compensate.

PRINCIPLES

Unlike values (such as teamwork or resourcefulness), which are open to interpretation in different cultures or settings, a company’s principles (such as honesty and integrity) are universal and enduring. The love leader must set them in stone. With principles, there’s no grey area. You’re either honest – and will return that extra cartridge the cashier slipped into your bag by mistake – or you aren’t.

COURAGE

Business leaders are constantly called upon to resolve conflict, and that takes courage. While it may feel easier to avoid confrontation and let things slide, a love leader has a duty to stand up and face the challenge. Unaddressed issues will fester, limiting the team’s ability to communicate, and its ability to achieve results.

FEARLESSNESS

In organizations, the greatest barrier to performance is fear – fear of embarrassment, fear of loss, fear of failure. In contrast, those who feel loved become fearless, and then they can really achieve. Driving out fear from your organization will unleash the talents, energy, innovation and creativity of your team, making room for ambition and confidence to grow.

GOOD BEYOND SELF

Love leaders act for the greater good of those around them – their teams, customers, communities. Such altruism may be on a grand scale – such as Warren Buffett giving the bulk of his fortune to the Gates Foundation – or on a smaller scale, the boss who digs into the company coffers to help an employee’s family in need. The payoff for these types of selfless acts is often intangible. But doing something that creates more benefit than you’ll receive is personally rewarding.

ABUNDANCE

Business leaders often find themselves locked in the scarcity mindset – the belief that there are not enough resources to go around. Love leaders create a kind of family culture, in which everyone feels invested in the company’s wealth.

MENTORSHIP

Ultimately, love leaders are defined by the strong followers they inspire – by sharing knowledge and fostering the progress of others. The best mentors have a kind of X-ray vision that can see people’s hidden talents. Think of the great leaders, such as Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela. They loved their followers. And in doing so, they inspired them to love, too.

By Randi Chapnik Myers, LL.B., LL.M., Partner, Workright Inc.

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