I recently gave a presentation to a group of sales leaders on the 7 Truths of Sales Leadership. One of my “truths” may be a little surprising to some. But from my many years of being in a leadership role and coaching others top-level executives, I think it’s the missing ingredient in many work cultures. And I would go as far as to say that if you want a world-class organization, you have to start from a place of love.
If you practice leadership from a place of love, you have openness and transparency, not secrecy and hidden agendas. You have a place of trust and curiosity, not fear and intimidation.
In my humble opinion, your job as a leader is to spread love. You’ve no doubt heard of the expression, “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” Love is simply an extension of deeply caring about others. It’s not yours to be stingy with; but yours to offer freely and openly. And on a side note, think about the amount of time you spend with your work team? By creating a culture of caring, you set the stage for a work environment where people are engaged, happy, productive and loyal.
Here’s another perspective on love:
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
So when I speak about love…remember, it’s patient and kind. Remember that it’s not envious or boastful. It’s not arrogant or rude or irritable or resentful. It doesn’t rejoice in wrongdoing. It seeks the truth. It is eternal. And it matters.
Now think of love in the context of your work with your team. How would your interactions and relationships with your co-workers be impacted if you truly embraced the sentiment and lessons in the verse from 1 Corinthians?
Little Acts of Caring
Every single day, you have the amazing opportunity to positively impact those who work with you. With simple gestures your actions can empower your team to give you their best. It can be a smile you freely share as you pass a team member in the corridor, stopping by a colleague’s office to see how their son’s little league game went, congratulating a co-worker on a great presentation to a client, etc. In other words, it’s taking the time to show you care. That’s it. Simple but so powerful.
You get to make a choice before every interaction with an employee to make it a moment of love or not. Even addressing a concern or a performance issue with an employee is an act of love, even though it might be considered “tough love.” I liken it to being a great parent. Sometimes you have to discipline and have hard conversations, but you do that because you genuinely want the best for your kids. Sometimes they need boundaries or consequences to guide them in the right direction. The same is true for your employees.
I once had an employee who was going through a host of personal issues that were noticeably impacting her sales performance. My version of “tough love” was to meet with her on a daily basis to discuss her activities and bring her focus back to work. I needed to micromanage (something that I normally would not do) in order to hold her accountable and prevent her from sabotaging herself and her career.
While I’m sure she did not welcome our daily interactions at the time, years later she shared how I “saved” her from the path of self-destruction she was on and how my relentless attention and scrutiny forced her to get her act together. And she was so grateful that I cared enough to push her and make her do what I had faith in her to do. You see, while I was dosing out the accountability and consequences, I never lost sight of the fact that I was coming from a place of love. My intent was not to get rid of her. My intent was to rehabilitate her and help her succeed.
When your folks know that you care, they will move mountains for you. They will hustle, they will produce and they will give it the extra push to make that tough deadline. Countless surveys reveal that employees don’t leave companies; they leave managers. And they leave because they don’t feel appreciated or respected. In other words, their managers aren’t showing them the love!
Delegate To Build Trust & Loyalty
Another way you can and should show love is to trust your team to step up to the challenges you face as an organization. In other words, you need to let go and learn to delegate. Delegating is one of the biggest struggles many leaders face, yet it’s so critical. If you don’t delegate, you’ll fail to reap the full benefits of your employees’ skills and abilities. And likewise, your ability to lead will fall short.
In the Korn-Ferry job survey for 2017, 73% of professional respondents noted that they would leave their current position if they were not sufficiently challenged. The fact is your people want meaningful work. They want to be challenged. They want you to have the confidence in their abilities to let them do their jobs.
So show some love. Support your team. Challenge your team. And you will feel the love in return. It’s pretty magical and it all starts with you.