What’s Love Got to Do With It? Why Leading with Love is Essential.

Posted by Jenni Catron on Feb 15, 2022 10:08:46 PM

What’s Love Got to Do With It? Why Leading with Love is Essential. 


Early in my career one of my leaders gave me some advice that completely challenged and changed my perspective on leadership.


He simply said, “Jenni, if you want to lead people you have to learn how to love them.”


Up to that point, I hadn’t correlated love with leadership. 


Leadership to me was about making things happen… giving direction… setting big goals, and rallying a team to achieve them. But love? I wasn’t quite sure how that fit with leadership.


Fast forward a couple of decades and the idea that we have to love people to lead them is core to my philosophy of leadership. 


In fact, it was that challenge from my leader that set me on this crazy journey to really understand what leadership means and has since informed my passion for leadership development and all the work we do here at 4Sight. 


That challenge led me to take a deep dive into Mark chapter 12 where we’re commanded to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. That deep dive into the great commandment solidified my belief that love is essential for leadership. 


For the Great Commandment to make sense as a foundation for leadership, you first have to believe that leadership really is about people and for people. The power of leadership is in one’s ability to lead a team of people to accomplish a great outcome. 


When love is missing from the equation we focus on the outcome at the expense of the people. 


When we see people first and choose to lead them with love, we exponentially increase our potential to achieve our shared outcome. 


Let’s look at what it means to lead with love, in other words, to lead from our heart:


The heart of a leader is the truest part of who you are.  Your heart is the center of your emotions, desires and wishes.  Your heart is what most connects you with others.  “Love God. Love others,” begins here in the heart.  It’s the relational dimension of leadership. Leading from the heart means understanding the power of connection: knowing that one of our greatest human needs is to be known.


3 Key Indicators of Leading with Love:


1. Influence 

Loving leaders understand the power of influence and steward it wisely. Influence by definition means “the power to change or affect someone”. When we are leading from the heart we understand that leadership is truly sacred work and that we earn influence through relationships rather than authority.


When we understand our influence we seek to connect with those we lead. One of my personal mantras to help me steward my influence well is, “slow down to see people”. Connecting as a relational leader takes us back to the pivotal understanding of leadership: leadership is about others. It’s not about you. In order to connect, we must see those we’re leading as the center of our attention and conversation. 

2. Self-awareness 

I believe that self-awareness is the secret weapon of successful people. Self-awareness is a component of emotional intelligence which is our ability to understand how our emotions affect us as well as our ability to read the emotions of others and discern how we’re affecting others. When we have a deep understanding of what is going on inside of us, we can be more conscious of how we impact others and therefore be more intentional in all we do. Self-awareness enables us to determine the emotional dynamics within ourselves and others and helps us navigate relationships in effective ways.

(I talk about 4 reasons self-awareness is essential for leaders in this post.)

3. Compassion

Leaders who lead with love truly care about their team. Compassionate leaders are more concerned about providing care than taking credit. When we lead from the heart, we see others as living, breathing humans with stories, emotions, families, strengths and weaknesses, and tragedies and joys.  And when we see those we lead as human, we seek to relate with them through our God-given power to understand one another through emotional connection. 


Show me a leader who understands the power of influence, has healthy self-awareness, and shows compassion, and I guarantee you’ll find a leader who is leading with love.


Keep leading well!

Jenni Catron and The 4Sight Group

Topics: Leadership, Culture, Clarity, Leadership Development

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