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  • Writer's pictureBrian Patterson

Love is the Essence of Effective Leadership

Brian Patterson Love my employees? What? They should be subservient to me because I’m the boss! In today’s business and societal climate this attitude is the source of much of our ineffectiveness and difficult relationships in the workplace. As I have seen in education and government offices, the leader creates the tone and environment in their realm. In his book, Leadersights, business consultant and Lean expert, David Veech, writes that a leader should learn, love and let go to be an effective leader. He cites servant leadership and the Lean culture of Toyota as examples of how these concepts improve the workplace. I would like to focus on the loving concept and bolster it with two other sources. In our culture today, love has a very squishy, emotional definition and seems to have no relevance in our daily work. Also, in the current climate, it is a word that might seem totally inappropriate in the workplace. The definition of the word would be very important. Veech says that love is servant leadership and “begins with a prospective leader’s will to love others; to take responsibility for them even when he or she has no structural power or resources other than their own efforts.: (Veech, p. 96). To further define this kind of love, we look more deeply into the definitions. There are three words for love in ancient Greek: eros, phileo, and agape. Eros, from which we get the adverb, erotic, is the physical love which permeates much of our media and cause much of the confusion about this concept. Phileo is friendship, or brotherly love. (It is the root for Philadelphia.) Agape is intentional, self-giving love. I believe that the essence of this love at work is the latter. The leader takes the responsibility to ensure workers’ needs are met in the workplace. There is a familiar definition of this kind of love in I Corinthians 13. It is a very practical application of how a leader can love is the agape sense. The passage lists these characteristics of love that make sense in the context of work. Love is patient, kind, unselfish, humble, not self-seeking, not grudge- holding, and focused on truth. Think about leaders in your life who you respected. How many of these characteristics did they embody? Would you like to work for a leader like that? The other source of support for this concept is Dr. William Glasser, of course. If you have read my blogs or know me at all, you know that my thought process revolves around Glasser’s Choice Theory and Reality Therapy. I have seen the implementation of these modalities in schools, prisons, and offices improve relationships and productivity. Dr. Glasser wrote and spoke of Deadly Habits and Caring Habits. The Caring Habits are a to- do list for effective leaders. Caring is the essence of loving. Those habits are supporting, encouraging, listening, accepting, trusting, respecting, and negotiating differences. Practicing these behaviors until they become habits can revolutionize any workplace. These will help the servant leader create an environment can meet their psychological needs and succeed at work. Veech describes the outcomes of this kind of relationship as high self- efficacy for all those involved in the enterprise. He lists 4 components of intrinsic motivation, Glasser described 5 Basic Needs. Veech​​​​​​​Glasser Competence​​​​​​Power Affiliation​​​​​​Love and Belonging Excitement​​​​​​Fun Self- determination​​​​​Freedom Later, he describes the importance of Safety ​ Survival

The parallels are uncanny! A leader incorporating these concepts into their daily work life will have greater success and peace of mind. Loving your people will break your heart once in a while but will bring hue dividends personally and professionally. References Glasser, W. (1998). Choice theory: A new psychology of personal freedom. New York. Harper. Veech, D. (2017). Leadersights: Creating great leaders who create great workplaces. New York. CRC Press.

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