Leading With Love
This article appeared in the February 2006 issue of Spirited Solutions’ E-Newsletter.
Think about the leaders you most cherished when you were growing up. Were they the folks who won the Nobel prizes, the ones who led our country to greater equality, the individuals who achieved unprecedented levels of success and effected social change?
I’d bet that you, like me, can easily name leaders—Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, JFK, Gloria Steinem, and so many more—who left such a profound mark on society that they transformed us collectively.
But what about the everyday leaders, those individuals who impacted your life?
Recently I gave a presentation on leadership and asked participants to recall a leader who had changed their lives powerfully. For one it was a coach, for several, a grandmother, for others, a youth minister or teacher. Interestingly, not a single person mentioned the “famous” leaders whose names are found in the history books.
The fact is that each of us is a leader, each of us is serving as a model, and each of us has the opportunity to influence and touch others profoundly every day of our lives!
We often forget that fact. If you ever doubt the impact we have on each other, think about someone who you shared a moment with, a moment that transformed your life.
For me, such a moment transpired when one of my teachers, the poet Robert Creeley, validated who I was and gave me a gift of healing. He witnessed a very painful childhood recollection I was writing about and gave me the gift of understanding and support in just a single sentence spoken with compassion.
Did he lead an army to victory? Did he change the legal structure? Did he boost the global economy? No, he simply gave me his full attention, chose to look at me with deep caring and love, and said four words, just four words.
Robert Creeley died last year. I was so grateful that I had gotten back into contact with him just nine months before he passed. I never told him what his words meant to me, but I let him know how much he meant to me and let him know what I was doing with my life.
I saved one of the emails he sent me and look back at it often when I feel discouraged. This poet-teacher of mine had the ability to see into my soul and hold a space of becoming for me that no one else had. He seemed to see my past, present, and future all at once, and held the vision so gently and tenderly that I felt known and loved for who I was and who I was becoming.
Isn’t that what it means to lead with love?
How are you leading those around you? How are you supporting your children? Your friends? Your spouse? Your neighbors? Your co-workers? Your clients?
Are you recognizing their efforts, guiding them, appreciating what they do well, and making yourself the kind of person who uplifts and motivates others rather than manages them? Are you wrapped up in your ego or are you a leader who looks for the good in everyone, builds on those strengths, and serves in whatever way is needed?
Are you willing to be fully present to someone else’s process of growth and becoming?
Until we lead with love, we do not lead; we dominate. Who are you leading today? Who is watching what you do—perhaps clandestinely—searching for a way to reach inside themselves and excavate the talents and abilities that will fulfill and distinguish them and make a difference in the world?
Look around you. You’ll find those you are leading—everywhere, at every moment! Open your eyes and wake up to the reality that you are a leader right now!
|“Love is the magician that pulls man out of his own hat.” –Ben Hecht|