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Leadership Styles

Operating Out of Love in the Workplace Equates to True Leadership

Dr. Mario Barrett, Ph.D. asked:

You know, even though I studied leadership development for over a decade, I never made the connection between love and leadership in the organizational setting. I mean, I knew what both terms meant in an intellectual sense. I even knew how leadership presented itself in a practical sense. But, this term called love was something that I had little facility with in an organizational setting. Therefore, I was unable to make the connection that without utilizing love, there can be no true leadership on the part of organizational leaders. I know that right now some of you may be confused by what I just said. But stop and think for a moment.

For employees, I know that many of you have supervisors or managers that are called leaders or occupy leadership positions. But I ask you, which ones would you go the extra mile for? And which ones would you give the bare minimum? Now, what qualities within those managers helped you make that determination? I would argue that the amount of love a given manager shows his/her employees on a daily basis helps employees decide whether or not to go the extra mile.

Now, when I talk about love, I am not referring to anything romantic. What I am actually referring to is a manager’s willingness to give of his/herself to his/her employees, facilitated by a genuine concern for their well being as whole and complete human beings. Examples of this in the workplace include:

a manager taking extra time to listen to an employee’s concerns (whether business or personal)

or a supervisory stopping an employee from doing a task because it is unsafe even though the employee was ready and willing to do it

Sadly, operating out of love in the workplace is not the rule in many American companies. The reason for this is that often times, managers are so pressured to meet objectives that they operate in survival mode, seeing and treating employees as tools rather than whole and complete human beings. This type of behavior totally contradicts operating in a loving manner, which sees and treats all employees as whole and complete human beings first and foremost. You see, when a manager operates in survival mode, he/she tends to horde resources, keep information to his/herself, and do what ever is necessary to remain viable and appease the organizational executive staff, while often times alienating his/her employees.

Love does not operate in survival mode. Love in an organizational setting is based on the notion of fostering the human spirit. A human being is a multifaceted and complex entity. Human beings have desires, dreams, goals, feelings, and beliefs. This being the case, the typical employee cannot be simply seen and treated as a tool by his/her manager. Utilizing love in the workplace allows for a manager to address the complexities of an employee, increasing the likelihood that he/she will be more at ease, content, and willing to go the extra mile when necessary. But, how can a manager show love to his/her employees in the workplace?

Just think about that manager that took the extra time to listen to his/her employee’s concerns (work related or not). An old business adage states that “time is money.” Well, for that extra minute or two this particular manager showed love by effectively communicating with his/her employee about a given issue. By using love, a manager’s goal is to bring out and connect with the humanity of his/her employees. Interactions facilitated with love will more than likely improve the interpersonal relationships between managers and employees. It’s interpersonal interactions such as these that develop a manager’s leadership and improve his/her ability to meet objectives over the long term.

Now, if you are a manager that wants to be a true leader, ask yourself the following questions:

Are my employees helping me or hindering me when it comes to meeting my objectives?

Could my management style be negatively impacting my interpersonal relationships with my employees?

Do I operate out of love with my employees? If not, why?

What could I start doing that would show my employees that I genuinely care about their well being and value them as whole and complete human beings?

Managers, if you are ready to become true leaders, answering these questions will get you started. So, go to work. By the way, utilizing love in the workplace is not relegated to managers. I began with them because management tends to set the corporate culture. Therefore, if they successfully incorporate love into the culture it should take root and spread throughout the entire organization.

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