How To Lead With L.O.V.E.—And Why It Matters For Your Organization

Hands and heart illustrating to demonstrate leading with love.

One of the most powerful leadership styles you can embrace is quite simple: leading with love. Yet it’s often overlooked, taken for granted, or dismissed altogether.

I’m not suggesting you tell your team members that you “love” them. Rather, I am suggesting you build confidence in your team members by showing them you care. Consider the moments when you knew your manager truly cared for your well-being versus the boss who robotically tracked whether you hit your targets or not.

We tend to overcomplicate good leadership. It’s like adding more ingredients to the chocolate chip cookie recipe when the simplest of ingredients are what make it best.

Based on my many years of coaching conversations with employees from various organizations serving in diverse roles, success begins with L.O.V.E!

LISTEN to your employees and what they need.

“If you want to add value to people, understand what they value,” says Dr. John C. Maxwell. This is an important statement, so let’s unpack what he means by this and how to put it into practice.

As a leader, it is imperative that we take the time to understand what our employees value most. Never assume you know what is important to your employees and their growth until you have heard it from them. Ask them regularly how you can support them.

During the past two years, many employees have realigned what they value. For some, paying off college debt is important, so they’re more motivated by money. For others, flexibility is high on the list because they’re juggling a hectic schedule (such as caregiving for children, elderly parents, ailing family members, or other responsibilities)—their work schedule must fit with the needs of their family. And others may value development and growth, such as learning a new skill or upskilling, taking on more responsibility, or growing their leadership qualities.

OFFER words of affirmation frequently.

Let your employees know that you see them and recognize their work often. If someone feels that you care about them and appreciate their contributions to the mission, they will work even harder.

There is a difference between motivation and inspiration. As a leader, we are not there to simply motivate our people. To a certain degree, that must come from within the employee. When you motivate, you essentially ignite the fire under an employee. Whereas, inspiration is creating that fire from within, so that they feel energized and confident about driving the mission forward. A great path to achieving this is by connecting the dots of an employee’s efforts to complete a specific project.

Inspiration should create a fire from within so employees feel energized and confident about driving the mission forward.

VALUE each person and the individual qualities they bring to the team.

We can’t be good at everything, but everyone is gifted at something. Take the time to understand what those “somethings” are and celebrate their strengths. To pinpoint an employee’s values, here’s a simple exercise you can lead with each team member:

  1. Share with them a list of core values, such as compensation, flexibility, career development, security, or wellness.
  2. Ask your employee to reflect on these ideas and narrow down the list to their top three core values. Encourage them to evaluate what is most important to them in this season of their life.
  3. Schedule a time to review those top values with your employee. This gives you the opportunity to uncover and understand their “why” and connect with the individual on a personal level. 
  4. Together, map out a plan for how you can best support your employee by incorporating those values into their work environment.
EMPOWER them to make mistakes.

“Trust is given. Mistrust is earned,” says Craig Groeschel. I love this quote. If you trust people, they will learn from their mistakes and grow.

When you empower others, we reinforce that we have hired the right person for the job and that you have trust in their abilities. The key for this to be effective begins with establishing a clear set of directions and expectations for the employee to follow.

Once you have established this foundation, it becomes about supporting the employee while maintaining open communication on their progress. Acknowledgment of any project being completed, then builds confidence for future projects.

To a certain degree, this becomes about letting go as a leader and allowing yourself to be purpose driven. Following this plan allows leaders to focus on the bigger picture. This is a critical area when attempting to create a culture of empowerment and trust.

No one wants to be managed, but we all want to be led and inspired. Leadership is a gift we are given that has the potential to impact lives if we start from a place of love rather than fear. When you take the time to L.O.V.E and connect with your employees, you are showing them that you are genuinely interested in their well-being and success. Remember, when you stop loving people, you stop leading people.

Do you know your leadership style? Take our quiz to find out.