The celebration of ‘love’ on February 14th typically means a commercially-minded emphasis on all things pink, heart-shaped, soppy, frilly and, all too often, transient.
For those of us who were married in a Christian church, a familiar reading is often included in the ceremony. It describes love in very different terms – very far from soppy or pink. In 1 Corinthians, verse 13, it is said: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”.
A good leader does not insist on being obeyed, but is a person whom others wish to follow.
But is this only relevant to newlyweds, or is it applicable to a broader audience? More important, does it apply to how we work, how we lead, how we relate to colleagues, and how we serve our clients?
Love is not a subject much discussed in offices, although sex – often confused with love – is indelibly associated with the office, especially around the ubiquitous Christmas and New Year parties. It does not feature in the language of board or strategy meetings; nor will you find it included in your contract or terms of employment. Yet love, or at least the version I have quoted, could be the most powerful motivator both for leaders, and those they wish to lead.
A good leader does not insist on being obeyed, but is a person whom others wish to follow. So what kind of person might you or I wish to follow?
It will be someone who is patient and kind and accepts you as you are. Someone who has no need to continually tell you how clever he/she is or, when challenged, responds with dismissive contempt. Someone who does not think that the only good idea is their idea, or gets grumpy and resentful if things don’t turn out the way they think they should.
Someone who is not delighted to see a competitor mess up; who has the balls to tell the truth, and who owns up when wrong. Someone who sticks by you, even when you have screwed up, who believes you and believes in you; who looks for the best in others and sees stuff through.
When it comes to leading businesses, managing staff, or serving clients, who would not want to follow a person like this? Love is inspirational.