Lead With Love Part Two

What does love have to do with leadership? Everything!

There is a lot of focus on love this month with Valentine’s Day just a few days away. Leadership, however, is not about romantic love. It is an agape love rich in caring and compassion, inspiration and motivation, coaching and mentoring, encouragement and discipline. This is the second installment of a February series of Tuesday Tidbits offering food for thought in each of those four areas of real leadership, rooted in love.

Inspiration and Motivation

While working toward my degree a few years ago, I had to take a psychology class. I recall one particular topic in great detail; the impact of inspiration and motivation on personal and business success. The two words are often used interchangeably, but they each have a specific and different meaning. And both are necessary for leading with love.

Inspiration is an external influence that prompts someone to want to do something. Motivation is an internal force that drives us to get that thing done. They operate hand-in-hand; no amount of inspiration will have a long term effect on someone who is not motivated to do.

This might help illustrate the difference: An upcoming trip to Hawaii might inspire me to want to drop ten pounds and buy some new beach clothes. But, if I am not internally motivated to stick to a diet and put the work into an exercise routine, I am not going to fit into that cute little dress I was eyeing for the trip!

The most successful organizations have both inspiring leaders and motivated employees who work in concert. The leader must know what motivates her team members in order to properly inspire them to achieve excellence in creativity, teamwork, production, and more.

Consider these examples:

  • Some people are motivated by social good. The inspiring leader finds ways to tie the everyday work to a positive outcome for the community being served.
  • Other team members might be motivated to leave a better world for their children. The inspiring leader can tie the company mission, project goals, or the customers served to the vision of building a great future.
  • A number of employees might be motivated by work-life balance. Others might really thrive on work-life integration. Inspiring leaders should know which is which and approach performance discussions accordingly.
  • There might be employees who joined the company specifically because the company mission, values or way of working reflects some personal value that motivates them. Asking the right questions in an interview should reveal that connection. The inspiring leader can then continue to leverage that connection post-hire.
  • And, of course, we have all had team members who are motivated solely by their paycheck. As long as that is recognized, the inspiring leader can engage that person with conversations around the personal financial impact of doing work well…or, not so well.

The bottom line is that the best leaders not only want to broadly inspire their followers, they also care enough to know what motivates their people and tailor more personal communication accordingly.

This week, be fully present to what motivates your team and how your inspirational messaging affects them.

Next week…Leading With Coaching and Mentoring.


The Tuesday Tidbit is the emerging leader’s weekly source for team building tips, leadership development content, creative ideas and general workplace inspiration. To discuss individual coaching or a group workshop at your office, contact me here and let’s chat!