This message was written on Good Friday, the religious holiday observed primarily by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death on a cross.
What is good about Good Friday? Judging by the legacy of his leadership impact two thousand years later, Jesus is probably the most successful leader of all time; yet, on Good Friday he is at the lowest point of his leadership career. Falsely accused, publicly humiliated and sentenced to death — Jesus looked like a tragic failure for a leader. The vision he cast to his followers over the previous three years didn’t seem to match these circumstances. Equally disturbing, only one of his 12 closest followers turned up to support him at this most difficult time. Why is this good?
It may seem odd to talk about leadership and love in the same breath. In business leadership such a notion may seem unprofessional. Leaders who value love may not seem to have respect in the boardroom, let alone on the manufacturing floor.
Do you regard being loving as a sign of weakness? Our leadership reality is that there is a significant precedent: Love impacts the bottom line.
In my 23 years of executive coaching I’ve found myself saying “I love people into high performance” and have at times questioned the marketability of that language. However, I see evidence all around that love in the workplace is profitable on many fronts. Just last night I was at a University of Portland business school Hall of Fame induction where the speaker; former U of P graduate and company president Fedele Bauccio; openly talked about loving his employees as the key to the successful business culture of his Bon Appetit Management Company. His company now operates more than 400 cafes and serves more than 80 million meals a year and now serves the Starbucks corporation offices in Seattle.
Is being loving a weakness in business? Consider the most famous and highly respected leaders of the past—what was their motivation? Were they acting selfishly on their own behalf or were they subordinating themselves to those they were leading serving them with courage and heart? Love, honor and respect are at the core of great leadership. The evidence is all around us, but are we willing to consider it? Further, can we even imagine applying it in our role as business leaders?
Can love live in the boardroom?
Understanding why Good Friday is called good is the same as seeing why love works in leadership. Digging deeper into Christ’s actions helps us recognize the power of a leader’s love.
The night before he died, at the lowest point in his leadership career, Jesus met with his followers for a meal. He knew three years of leadership preparation was about to end and others would need to step up. Can you relate? You have probably faced moments of leadership truth like this where what you say and do as a leader is critical.
What did he do? He performed the lowest of all jobs in the household to make a point. He washed his followers’ feet. He demonstrated the highest level of leadership exists in serving others. He then said: “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.”
Is this the challenge we face when considering love as a key leadership principle? Are we afraid to humble ourselves and model what leadership is really about? Transparently demonstrating our love for others?
Want to learn how to convert love to business results? Join us on Tuesday the 17th for Leadership Results 365 and Communicating for Results in the afternoon. Then join us for The Way of Wealth on Saturday morning the 21st.