By Kelly Harmon Schmitt, CPC, ELI-MP
Professional Life and Leadership Coach
At the onset and subsequent spread of the pandemic, it was never more evident that we were all connected. All of us on this planet. I reflected deeply on that physical and spiritual connection. But that deeper reflection quickly gave way to the business at hand – of working and schooling remotely, staying healthy, dealing with the physical separation of elderly parents, etc. I worked hard to be resilient and thrive despite the pandemic uncertainty, civil unrest, political strife. I am not alone here; we have all been challenged in unprecedented ways. It’s. Been. A. Year.
But as we wrap up this year, I thought it might all do us some good to think about love. Yes, love. Because love isn’t just about the powerful feelings we have for others – love is a force, a power we can put to good use especially in the context of leadership. Love isn’t just about feeling, it’s about doing. So, what if reframed and came at things from the perspective of leading our lives, our teams, or organizations with love?
What does it mean to lead with love?
I asked myself and a range of leaders, C-suite, human resources, advertising, professional coaches, small business owners, what it means to lead with love. Here are some thoughts:
- Give yourself some grace. Give your team some grace. Give everyone you encounter some grace. The stories we tell ourselves aren’t always kind. The reason for this is that negative events have a greater impact on our brains than positive ones. Psychologists refer to this as the negativity bias. Give yourself some grace and tell yourself a different story, for example, a story of all the positive things you did, your team did, your organization did this year. It will be longer than you think!
- Listen. More. Yes, we are all busy so sometimes we sort of listen or think about our responses instead of listening in our conversations. To listen, is to do so with empathy and compassion. So, stop and truly listen. You will hear what is happening on many levels and will be much more effective in your leadership.
- Act with empathy and compassion for yourself and everyone you influence. Make it a part of you who are. It doesn’t matter if you are managing up, down or around –acting with empathy and compassion should be for all whom we encounter during our day. Be clear but kind. I suspect your day will be much more pleasant and productive when you do so.
- Deeply connect to the greater good for all, no hidden agendas or ego present. Wow, this is a big one – let the ego go. Think about the ideas, solutions and decisions that support the objective and benefit all. Go for the win-win, it works.
- Think with the brain, gut, and heart. It is easier to make logic-only based decisions. But the best decisions pass muster in all three ways. Using logic, intuition and compassion together is like the Three Musketeers of decision-making leading to exponentially better outcomes.
How will you lead with love?
Many of us have spent this year doing our best to make it work. But so often that means not taking the time to take a deep breath and reflect. To reset. To reframe. But what if we all took a moment and asked ourselves what it means to lead with love? What if we took a moment to think about compassion, empathy, grace or kindness for ourselves, our families, our teams, our organizations? For everyone we encounter? What different actions would we take? My one wish for you is that you find those few minutes to go through this exercise. Your will certainly make your world a little bit better — but collectively we may all make the world a little bit better because of it.
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