When you think about love in leadership, do you think…

  • It’s a bunch of fluff. I can’t worry about loving my people, I have goals to meet!
  • [Eye roll] For Pete’s sake, my job isn’t about love. It’s about getting things done!
  • Love? At work? I don’t have time for hearts and flowers. Have you seen my turnover?
  • Really, I should love my people? They don’t love me!

If you agree with any of the above statements, it’s time for a mind shift. Or, maybe, it’s time for a heart shift.

Leading from the heart means that we care.

We care about our team and each person on it. We are interested in them because they are each unique people with hopes and dreams we impact. We listen to them because their experiences, viewpoint and ideas might help the team grow, innovate and succeed. We are concerned and empathetic because we are human, too. We understand that work and life must fit together but also know that sometimes they overlap and sometimes they are in conflict. We share in both the joys and the challenges. We know that caring leadership has a positive impact on employee turnover. We also know that leadership and love starts with us and our behavior.

When we care, we hold people accountable.

We want our team members to be people of their word and follow-through on commitments. We count on them to perform consistently at a high level to help the team achieve its goals. As leaders we set both the example and the expectation of how to get things done. When a team member does not meet a stated expectation or a personal commitment, we don’t ignore it. We don’t just hope it gets better. We take action to help the person succeed. We have a meaningful performance conversation. We talk about the impact to the team. We point out the potential lingering impact to the individual’s career. We restate expectations and move forward. We provide any training or other resources needed. We monitor performance. We acknowledge improvement and encourage continued positive growth.

When we hold our people accountable because we care about them, we are leading with love. And, that is not a bunch of fluff.

Photo credit: all you need is love, and accountability by danjo paluska, used with Creative Commons license.