Leading With Love Part Four

What does love have to do with leadership? Everything!

There has been a lot of focus on love this past month with the celebration of Valentine’s Day. 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 last of four installments of a month-long series of Tuesday Tidbits offering food for thought in each of those four areas of real leadership, rooted in love.

Encouragement and Discipline

Many people think that leading with love is all rainbows and butterflies and can’t possibly include the discipline needed to move a team toward achieving organizational goals. In reality, just the opposite is true. Leading with love requires that we encourage our people to be and give their best to the team. It also requires that when people fail to meet expectations in performance or behavior, that appropriate discipline (i.e., consequences) is known and delivered. Leading with love requires both.

Encouragement is defined as the action of giving someone support, confidence or hope. When we care about our people as individuals, when we trust and believe in them, and when we invest time and effort in their development, they are encouraged. When we share a clear vision for the future, when we are positive and optimistic, and when we communicate openly and honestly, they are encouraged. And, when people are encouraged, they naturally feel more positive and optimistic about themselves, their leadership, and the organization. This, in turn, improves morale and attendance, boosts productivity and teamwork, and leads to increased loyalty to the organization.

Discipline often, unfortunately, brings to mind a progressive series of short term goals and threats. For example, do this thing by this date or you will move to the next level of discipline, always including a statement threatening termination. <Sigh> Dealing with adults in the workplace usually doesn’t need to include such messaging. Most people are reasonable and actually want to perform well. A loving leader takes a personal caring approach that involves a face-to-face conversation, clearly outlining expectations, offering an evidence-based narrative of “what is” and where performance is falling short, and optimistically encourages solution-oriented thinking by the employee. Both parties must commit to the solution for it to have the best chance for success. It will be clear in this process that if performance or behavior does not improve, the person may not be a proper fit for that role. Is employment termination sometimes the answer? Yes, it is. But when approached in this manner, it actually becomes a mutual agreed to solution, rather than a threatening and punishment-laden if-then event.

When the leader’s action is borne out of love, the ultimate desire of both encouragement and discipline is the same; seeking the best contributions from the individual toward organizational goals.

This week, be fully present to your approach as you offer encouragement and discipline. Are you acting out of love in both cases?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series. If you missed the earlier installments, click the links in the first paragraph to read them. Lead on, always with love.


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!