Who do you lead in your life? Most everyone is a leader in some facet of their lives whether it is at home, in church, in the community, or the workplace. In this article, we will focus mostly on leadership at work, but these principles can certainly be applied to other aspects of your life.
Why is great leadership so important? It is critical to the success of any organization. A recent Gallup study showed that seventy percent of an employee’s motivation is influenced by his/her leader. And a bad boss is one of the top reasons that employees leave organizations.
As you can imagine, there is a ton of information on what makes a great leader. A Google search yielded almost one million results. After combing through numerous sources and from personal experience from thirty years in Human Resources, I have concluded that the best leaders are those that “lead with love.” This isn’t the warm and fuzzy kind of love, but the kind of love that allows others to be imperfectly human. A leader that leads with love shows others that he/she cares about them and their lives inside and outside of work.
Here are the top ten behaviors that leaders who “lead with love” exhibit.
- They show respect.
A Harvard Business Review study found that respect is the most important behavior for leaders to demonstrate to garner commitment, engagement, and respect from others. They know that to get respect from others, they must give it!
- They manage themselves.
A leader that can’t manage himself or herself isn’t going to be able to effectively lead anyone else. A Google study on what makes managers most effective found that employees most appreciate managers who are even-keeled (patient, poised, and positive) and don’t lose their cool.
- They are empathetic.
Great leaders connect with others on an emotional level and appreciate their situation and point of view. It is more critical than ever for leaders to practice empathy with the state of our world and workplace.
- They demonstrate integrity.
Integrity connotes a deep commitment to doing the right thing for the right reason, regardless of the circumstances. Leaders with integrity are honest and don’t tell untruths. They keep confidences confidential. They walk the talk. They do what they say they will do when they say they will do it. They act consistently, no matter what the setting or group involved.
- They trust and empower others.
“Please micromanage me,” said no employee ever. Great leaders extend trust to others and empower them to do their jobs. They develop and maintain a culture that values and honors people and allows them to use their God-given talents at work, rather than forcing things to go the way they feel is best.
- They are humble and willing to show vulnerability.
They show humility, embrace their vulnerability, openly acknowledge their imperfections, and share how these imperfections allow them and others to learn and grow.
- They are good coaches.
Google’s Project Oxygen study found that the best managers are good coaches. They listen actively, give feedback (positive and constructive) in a motivational way, and guide others towards solutions.
- They communicate relentlessly.
Great leaders communicate information, thoughts, expectations, and ideas clearly and frequently, potentially using several different methods. They also communicate a clear vision and strategy for their teams. This involves reinforcing the organization’s mission, vision, and values and helping team members understand how they contribute.
- They pass the credit and take the blame.
True leaders take responsibility for everything. They turn each misstep into an opportunity to learn instead of pointing fingers at others. And when the team is successful, they pass credit onto their subordinates, knowing that they are nothing without the team.
- They support career growth.
Most employees want to grow and develop, not remain stagnant. Great leaders take an interest in their subordinates’ careers and nurture their growth and development.
What kind of leader do you think you are? Consider assessing yourself in each of these ten categories and gathering feedback from others. Then, you can create an action plan to enhance your ability to lead with love and make a positive difference in the lives of others!