Love Leadership

Yes, you read it correctly – I said love leadership – and that’s what I’m inviting each of you to bring to every leadership role you have. Whether at work, with your team, in your family, in your relationships or in any organization, I’m suggesting that you embrace love leadership as the path to achieving, engaging and executing. But before we get on to what love leadership is, let’s explore the why of love.

In 1980, the United States Olympic hockey team was thought to be a good team, but not a great team. The goal of the United States Olympic Committee was modest – perhaps, if the team got some breaks, they could make it to the medal round, but winning the gold medal was not even within the realm of possibility. After all, the Soviet Union’s hockey team was not only the top-rated team in the world, but they were thought to be unbeatable. The Soviet team (average age 25.9) was more like a professional hockey team, and the United States hockey team was just a bunch of college players (average age 21.7). Shortly before the start of the Olympics, the Soviet Union beat the United States 10-3 without much effort. And yet, Herb Brooks (coach of the United States) believed that his team could win the gold medal.

Much has been made of Coach Brooks’ coaching tactics, but one tactic is clear – in order to get his team to come together, he purposely gave them something to come together around – their hatred of him. While some may question his approach, it worked—the team came together, jelled and supported each other in magnificent ways. While some call the United States’ victory over the Soviet Union and eventual gold medal the Miracle on Ice, others (including me) see it as one of the most historic collaborations in the history of sports. And at the core of it all was love. The players loved each other. In countless interviews with members of the United States team, they talked about how much they cared about each other and supported each other, and that is love.

For some reason, we’ve come to believe (based upon our actions) that love has no business in business. When did you ever hear any leader talking about love in the workplace? The truth is that love is all we need (well, most of what we need). Why not bring love into our leadership and business discussions and strategies? It works. The problem is that we have misguided views of love (from our personal and romantic relationships), and these views lead us to wrongly believe that love is only personal (not business). I’m here to offer you a new way of leading, where love is at the heart of it all—in this case my own special version of L.O.V.E.

But first, let’s settle on one thing. In the context of business, love (at a minimum) means caring about each other, supporting each other, believing in each other, wanting the best for each other, challenging each other, and listening to each other. I don’t know about you, but that sounds to me like a formula for success in anything and especially in business. That’s why love deserves a special and permanent place in our business and leadership strategies and tactics. It’s that simple.

Let’s get back to my special version of L.O.V.E. as an acronym for business growth and success:

LLeaning In (to each other): This means trusting each other, supporting each other and having each other’s backs. This also means taking risks with and for each other.

O Open Minded: This means holding your own beliefs and values but being open to each other team member’s differing perspectives, letting go of the need to be right and make someone else wrong. It means listening with an open mind and heart.

V Vulnerable Authenticity: This means being real, letting people know and experience your humanness, and letting go of the need to control and pretend that you know everything or have all the answers. It means allowing others to lead and ask questions to better understand. It also means seeking out direct and honest feedback.

EEmpathetic: This means seeking to understand those around you and listening to understand. It means having a sincere desire to help others develop by honoring their imperfections as they learn and grow. It means letting your team members know through your actions that you value and respect them, while helping them to become the best versions of themselves.

We could take a deeper dive into each of these L.O.V.E. elements, but for now it’s easy to see how living and leading from this place of L.O.V.E. can and will create the positive impact we all are seeking to make and have, both personally and professionally.

With nearly 68% of the United States workforce not engaged or actively disengaged with their work, something’s got to change (Gallup). We keep waiting for the employees to change, but this is a matter of leadership, and each of you is leading someone, some group, some project or some effort. Why not try a little love? Bring L.O.V.E. into your leadership, and you’ll experience the difference it can make with your relationships, impact and objectives. Now is the time for love leadership, and it can only happen one person at a time—more specifically, one leader at a time—who is willing to do things different in order to achieve different outcomes. With Valentine’s Day freshly in our rear-view mirror, bring on the love!

Love Leadership


  1. Susan Rothacker says:

    Thanks Jeff!
    LOVE this!

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