Can Love Dramatically Impact Leadership Development?
My reaction when I first heard the word “love” mentioned in a leadership development setting was, “What’s love got to do with business and mentoring my salespeople?”
OK, I’ve heard of servant leadership. I’ve seen fabulous pieces of art around the world that focus on serving leadership. But, love? in business?
Well, it’s Valentine’s Day! The day when love is celebrated all over the globe with flowers, chocolates, and often lavish gifts.
My more cynical self says it’s a great day for Hallmark, but what does Valentine’s Day really have to do with leadership development and knowing how to improve sales?
In my closing chapter of Millennials Matter, Love is the Ultimate Measure, I share my experience when I first encountered the concept that love is an important part of our leadership development strategies…
Love is the Ultimate Measure in Leadership Development
“We haven’t talked enough about love.”
I had just finished teaching a two-hour session on Sales for Emerging Entrepreneurs. Budding tech entrepreneurs in the audience were paired with mentors and investors with the hope of accelerating their business growth.
As I wrapped up the training, the company’s CEO, a respected entrepreneur, and investor interjected, “Danita, this has been great, but there’s one thing we haven’t spent enough time on today.”
It’s a powerful Sales Growth Strategy
Research has shown that the more people feel loved at work, the more engaged and productive they are.
According to an article titled “Employees Who Feel Love Perform Better” in the 2014 Harvard Business Review, “Employees who felt they worked in a loving, caring culture reported higher levels of satisfaction and teamwork. They showed up to work more often.” While this might be true for every generation, I believe love is something that can potentially have an enormously positive impact on your Millennial team members.
Numerous studies on Millennials report that this so-called, self-absorbed generation is passionate about:
- Donating money to charity (even though they will do an online search first to find out if the charity is doing what they say they’re doing)
- Making a positive difference in the world
You know how a dozen thoughts can whiz through your head in a matter of seconds. My thoughts went something like this. I’m pretty thorough; what could I have missed? I’ve been relentless in stressing how critical it is to deeply understand our prospects’ frustrations and headaches, as well as their goals before we start the data dump about all the great “stuff” we’ve engineered for them. Was he hoping I would talk about technical competence, the sales process, or sales metrics?
Instead of dumping all my racing mental thoughts on him, I ask him to expound, “Tell me more…”
“You’re missing a critical link,” he said.
Again, my I’m-pretty-thorough thoughts raced. But, I set them aside to keep listening.
The CEO continued, “We haven’t talked enough about love. To truly serve ouremployees, clients, and prospects; we need to love them.”
Love; I confess I was thrown off by the word. When I read the ancient scriptures, I am often reminded that love is the ultimate measure of my life, but it’s not a common topic in the business world. However, this entrepreneurial guru, whose life goal was to inspire emerging entrepreneurs and leaders, actually thought we needed to talk more about love . . . in a business meeting!
Your Next-Gen Leader and Love
What vision might you give your Next-Gen leader about how they might leave their own legacy of great leadership? The challenge by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges in Lead Like Jesus might be an end to work towards: “A godly leader in the community finds common ground and reconciliation with people of diverse opinions, backgrounds, priorities, and spiritual perspectives. Lovingly, they speak in truth and courage with goodwill and tolerance without wavering from moral and ethical conviction.” Notice the word lovingly again.
Then, I think of The Greatest Commandments from Jesus: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And, love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27
There’s the word again, love.
Love-Inspired Leadership Development
What might love look like today, in the every-day, work-a-day world?
Here are some practical ways to inspire your Next-Gen leader to “operationalize” a word we don’t use often in a business setting, love.
- Recognize when someone goes the extra mile. Show love and care by complimenting a job well done with a note of appreciation.
- Do your work with excellence. (In fact, this is one of the primary ways in which we can live out the Great Commandment to love God and love others.)
- Tell someone you see regularly how they positively impact your day.
- Give a smile. As Mother Teresa said, “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.”
As another mentor of mine, the late Zig Ziglar, said. “You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.”
Leadership Development and St. Francis of Assisi
In high school, I announced I was planning to use St. Francis’ famous prayer as the closing to my graduation speech. Not everyone was impressed.
“St. Francis wasn’t a rich man, so you can’t use him to measure success,” the superintendent instructed me.
“Danita,” he continued, “your job is to inspire leaders to be successful. St. Francis wasn’t successful. He was just a poor monk. To inspire leaders to success, you need a stronger image.”
In spite of the concern, I believed St. Francis’s prayer was apropos. Even though it was written close to a thousand years ago, every word of that prayer still carries a strong moral message for our modern society. Then, as now, the Prayer of St. Francis called me to a higher purpose for my life–an idea that each of us can strive for in all aspects of our lives.
To this day, that prayer hangs in my office as a daily reminder to answer the call to servant leadership in my business and personal life. To me, this ancient poem constantly inspires me to an outward focus that leverages my gifts and talents to empower others. In the end, it gives me life purpose and meaning.
I share it with you in the hope that it will encourage you to always coach, mentor, and lead…with love. For indeed, it is the ultimate measure of our lives.
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
~ Saint Francis of Assisi
So, the answer to my question, “What’s love got to do with business and mentoring my salespeople?” is everything!
In my recent series, 5 Bold Predictions for a Post-Covid World, we talk about how vital it is to focus on making a positive impact.
It’s about love, isn’t it?
And, it’s more than flowers, chocolates, and lavish gifts. It’s more than wonderful statues.
Love is the ultimate measure of our life.
Leadership Development Lesson: Love is the ultimate measure of our lives. Show love in all you do and say.
Leadership Development Question: What might you do to include serving in your leadership development strategies – not only on Valentine’s Day but every day of the year?